A recent survey by Regus has revealed that almost half the workers in the UK work well over eight hours a day.

Over a third of workers work between nine and eleven hours a day. And a large percentage of workers take their work home with them on more than one night a week. England appears to have a culture where it is considered bad to leave the office before your peers do. Last year figures were released which showed us to be one of hardest working countries in the EU, if the hardest working means the longest hours that is.

This culture is having a negative effect on worker's health and has been cited as a leading cause in the increase in stress related illnesses. People tell stories about the pressure of being at work to the point of staff doing things such as leaving a coat over their chair when they go home so that it appears they are still working. How do we combat the feeling that we must be seen to be “putting in the hours”? Perhaps all this behaviour comes from the belief that the more hours we put in, the more we achieve. In actual fact, studies have revealed that this is not always strictly the case.

We have all  heard about the need to take sufficient breaks throughout the day, though not all of us will adhere to this. Perhaps we don't wish to be seen taking breaks because we're worried others will consider us to be “slacking”. So instead we eat at our desks. These breaks revitalise us to be able to then return to work in a fresher state. Yes, stress in small doses can sometimes, for some people, act as a motivator. Generally, however,  a fresher being allows us to work more efficiently. Stress can cause you to forget tasks or to over complicate maters because you've spent so long looking at one piece of work that you can no longer really see it anymore. It is at these points where a short break can work wonders. You can return with a fresh perspective and a renewed vigour to tackle the problem and attain that goal.

The economy is being blamed for a lot at the moment, and this is another area in which it has not been a help. People are more fearful for their job security these days. Redundancies appear on the news more regularly and the price of living continues to rise. All these things make people think that they have to be seen to be working hard to keep a hold of their job. It is now that all the different working methods that HR experts talk about need to come into action. Something such as flexible working or working from home could make a huge difference to the morale of staff and as such productivity for the business as a whole.

Part-time working has been cited by the CIPD as a good way of getting experienced individuals working for you. It is also a good way of preventing burn outs. However, these differing methods will only go as far as the employer's culture allows them.

There needs to be an element of trust and mutual respect between the employer and the employee. The employee needs to understand their duties and apply sufficient care to achieve them or indeed exceed them. And the employer must trust that this is the case. Where the employee feels empowered, perhaps because of the autonomy of their role for example, it is more likely that they will feel a commitment towards meeting the goals of their employer and the business as a whole. So, essentially it all works in a circular fashion. This culture must emanate from the top of the corporate structure and filter down to its employees. This way people may be leaving their desks earlier in the day but the work will get done and satisfaction on the whole should improve.

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