Blog | 10.17.2013

Myth: Everyone works for 8 hours a day

Having analyzed 40+ million work hours at 40+ organizations and 40,000+ users in the past two years, Sapience is breaking a few myths about the ‘8 hours of work in office’.

Myth #1) Everyone works for 8 hours a day

Nothing can be far from truth. Yes, most of us are in office for at least 8 hours a day but “working” for 8 hours isn’t happening. The average employee spends only 5-6 hours on work. Not intentionally, but our work habits are such that we end up spending 2-3 hours on social media, our cell phones, online shopping and banking, gossiping about politics and cricket and more, and some of, on smoking breaks!

More importantly, lot of work time is spent on emails and meetings. This means that, for example, many programmers and testers may only get 2-3 hours of coding and testing work done. This problem of inadequate time on our core activities is true for those of us in other functions too.

Myth #2) Everyone works for 8 hours a day

You must be re-reading the heading. No, it is not a copy-paste error!

There is another aspect to the first point – which is that it referred to the average work pattern in companies. We always knew that 50-60% of the work is being done by 20% of the best performers. Sapience shows a big gap between the work patterns of the Top 20% and Last 20% of employees on the same project.

Star performers usually work very hard. But they do it without excessively longer hours in the office. Sapience sorts employees into Top 20%, mid-60% and Last 20% based on average per-day work hours.The finding:

  • The Top 20% are in office maybe 1 to 1.5 hours more than the Last 20%.
  • The work hours of the Top 20% are almost double that of the Last 20%. Their average is more than 8 work hours (6+ hours actively at work on the PC), while the Last 20% deliver 3-5 hours.

Myth #3) Everyone works for 8 hours a day

Again, this too is not a copy-paste. You are perhaps telling yourself, which myth is uncovered here?

Managers tend to favor employees who work long hours. If you are invariably in office after the manager leaves, chances are that s/he thinks you are one of the hard workers.

Employees typically fall into two categories:

  • Come late and work late – be in office by 11am or so, and stay back till 8 pm or more
  • Work regular hours – get in before 10 am and wrap up by 6 pm

Sapience is discovering that there is no significant difference between the two. The 9-6ers are as likely or even more so, than the 11-9 types, to be in the Top 20%. However, the 9-6ers are in fact more efficient – they contribute high work hours in proportion to time in office. It appears that constraints related to transport or needing to be home with the family (typically for lady employees), they are driven to complete their work in the assigned time. Guess what – their work-life balance is the best!

In contrast, people who work late hours feel that they are overworked – even if they may have spent a lot of time not really getting the work done. Just the long hours outside office, and going home late when the office is empty and it is dark outside, creates that impression in the mind. Maybe after staying late, they have also got into the habit of coming in late too. Also, perhaps the absence of pressure to return home by a fixed time, means that they end up being more wasteful of their time in office.

Sapience means the ‘ability to apply insights’. While our software measures, analyses and provides insights on Work Patterns, it has a clear objective. Sapience delivers a 20+% increase in productivity of employees and in turn organizations. These insights help leaders make informed decisions to let their teams focus in key activities and deliver more in the same day of literally “8 Hours”!