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After-Hours Work Linked to Decreased Productivity

Employees who log off at the end of the workday register 20% higher productivity scores than those who feel obligated to work after hours, according to a recent report from Slack. The company’s Workforce Index finds that about two out of every five desk workers (37%) are logging on outside of their company’s standard hours at least weekly, and more than half (54%) of these workers say it’s because they feel pressured to, not because they choose to.  

In addition to being less productive, employees who work after hours report worse work-related stress, lower satisfaction with overall working environment, and twice as much burnout as those who log off at the end of their standard workday.  

Both groups say around 70% of their time spent working is productive, a sign that those working extra hours are putting in as much effort as their colleagues, but those who work after hours are 50% more likely to say their productivity is blocked by competing priorities than those who log a standard workday.  

Those who work outside of standard hours by choice, whether to better suit their schedule or pursue personal ambitions, report no negative impacts and even a slight uptick in wellness.  

A significant portion of desk workers are struggling to balance their time at work, with more than one in four (27%) employees and more than half (55%) of executives saying they spend too much time in meetings. A similar share of desk workers, including 43% of executives, say they spend too much time emailing.  

One in five (20%) don’t have enough time to connect with coworkers, and many are working through their daily tasks without any down time: half of desk workers surveyed (50%) say they rarely or ever take breaks during the workday. These workers are nearly twice as likely to experience burnout.  

Break-taking employees show 62% higher scores for work-life balance, 43% greater ability to manage stress and anxiety, 43% greater overall satisfaction, and 13% higher scores for productivity.  

Desk workers say that 70% of their time at work is productive. When asked about prime hours for productivity, some desk workers prefer the morning and others prefer the evening. But no matter their preference, a majority (71%) of desk workers agree that late afternoon is the worst time for work, with productivity plummeting between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.  

The most productive people use time management strategies – they are more likely to block time to complete specific tasks, more likely to only check email at specific times, and more likely to set focus timers.  

The research shows a “Goldilocks Zone” for the ideal balance of focus time, collaboration time, social connection, and downtime during the workday. Desk workers say the ideal amount of focus time is four hours a day. Over two hours a day in meetings is the tipping point at which most workers say they’re spending too much time in meetings, with a similar pattern emerging across all job levels.  

An overwhelming majority of executives (94%) feel some urgency to incorporate AI into their organizations. Yet, adoption of AI is still in its infancy, with one in five desk workers saying they have used AI tools for work.  

Given the low adoption, it’s not surprising that more than 80% of desk workers say AI tools are not improving workplace productivity. The top three activities employees expect AI to provide support for are meeting notes, writing assistance, and automation of workflows.  

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