Come on Jeb, Working Longer Hours Doesn’t Mean Higher Productivity

By BroadVision on July 09, 2015

It’s not about working longer hours.  Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush just doesn’t get it. Speaking recently about his plans for growing the economy he said –

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Unfortunately, technological advancements have made completing tasks faster. However, productivity does not come from working longer hours or just by adding a new piece of technology.  Becoming more efficient can increase productivity. A microwave has reduced cooking time.  Power yard equipment makes it easier and faster to trim a tree. Tasks get done faster, but does less time mean more productive? The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco echoed this in February 2015 when it published a paper saying that the productivity boost that technology provided between the late 1990’s and early 2000’s has all but vanished.  Advances still provide benefits, but not at the same level.

Jeb Bush would have you think that working longer hours makes you and the economy more productive.  I have known plenty of workers who work long hours only to produce nothing or substandard results. Productivity is about getting the most out of maximum effort.

Studies have shown that the average worker wastes up to three hours a day.  If a person works five actual hours and wastes three, yet gets their work done, does this mean they are productive? No one can work 60 full minutes for eight hours.  We all need mental breaks and diversions to recharge, but if we reduced the waste from three hours to one, what else could we accomplish? More thinking about how to move the company, product or team forward would boost productivity.  Spending time with colleagues brainstorming or ideating about problems and opportunities would drive the organization forward.

More productive = increased productivity.

Today, most workers use disconnected tools at work to be more productive.  While they are more productive than if they didn’t have these tools, are we as productive as we could be? Hunting for documents or trying to engage a peer in an office halfway around the world is a frustrating experience.  Is spending hours upon hours every day in meetings or creating PowerPoint decks 50 slides long an efficient use of time? Jeb Bush would have companies hire PowerPoint creators for every team just to have more employed workers.  Sure, that’s a solution.

Increase workplace communication and collaboration and productivity will follow.  During the early days of Yahoo!’s turnaround, then CEO Carol Bartz said at an all-hands meeting.  “Stop with the meetings and PowerPoint presentations.  Take a few hours a week to think.”  Well said!


About Ty

Ty is BroadVision’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. BroadVision’s latest advancement is Vmoso; the enterprise grade, secure platform addressing modern communication and collaboration challenges. In today’s mobile centric and interconnected world, Vmoso increases engagement and productivity through improved teamwork amongst colleagues, partners and customers – wherever, whenever and on whatever device you are using.