Have you ever found yourself staying at your desk later than 5.30 simply for fear of being judged by your boss for heading out on time? Do you often find yourself eating lunch at your desk, missing out on your lunch break entirely? You’re not the only one!

31% saying that those who leave work on time are being looked-down on

31% saying that those who leave work on time are being looked-down on

A new study by totaljobs has found that nearly a third of the UK workforce regularly stays later than their contracted hours to keep up appearances – a growing phenomenon known as presenteeism.

This culture is having negative implications on the nation’s workforce, as evidence suggests that staying on past your allocated hours does not actually improve your productivity. What is more worrying is that this growing manifestation is being encouraged by bosses, with 31% saying that those who leave work on time are being looked-down on.

But how do we combat this to ensure our working life is not becoming our only life?

The power of a deadline

Having a set deadline focuses the mind. When we have all day to do something, it will take us all day. We distract ourselves with a torrent of sideline tasks, and it is all too easy to turn to social media, and mindless chatter to divert our attention from the task in hand. However, when faced with a hard deadline, we become more decisive and focused: eliminating the non-essentials and focusing on getting the job done.

For example, women returning to work after maternity leave often report an increase in focus and productivity, because they have a ‘hard deadline’ to leave the office on time in order to meet their childcare commitments.

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Companies that have experimented with shorter working days or shorter working weeks also often find a dual benefit in productivity - their workers are more focused and productive while at work and have more space to enjoy life outside of work, which means they come back with increased wellbeing, motivation, energy and creativity.

Flexibility and strategic breaks

Bosses who give their workers the incentive and flexibility to determine how they do their best work - and reward them based on the impact and value they create rather than the hours they put in - are the ones who will see the best returns in productivity, with a much more focused workforce, greater job satisfaction and improved work life balance.

Taking regular breaks can also enhance our productivity by restoring our focus and renewing our energy - think of it as a series of mini sprints throughout the day, rather than one long slog. It is also important to make time to take your full lunch hour – and get away from your desk to eat! Use the time to switch off from your working environment, and re-charge.

Make an effort to leave on time to attend a fitness class, meet up with a friend for dinner, or simply go home to relax. Your work / life balance will thrive, and your productivity may even be enhanced as a result.

Written by Grace Marshall, Productivity Expert