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Project Management

Killing Productivity: The Overtime Story

Sedentary jobs are everywhere, from the office to the artist’s studio. Our bodies and minds somehow detach, with our body firmly in place, our minds do most of the work.   Did you know that when we sit in front of a computer for extended amounts of time, we’re causing damage not only to our bodies but also to our minds? The very thing we need to use to stay productive! It’s easy to forget that when we’re working in front of a computer, we’re absorbed by all that exists on the screen.

Preventing extreme cycles of overtime will help counteract futility at work. It’s not surprising that research shows elevated stress levels caused by spending too much time in one place every day which can inevitably lead to burnout (see How to Prevent Burnout).


Point of View: Management

In some cases, a manager may see an employee sat at their desk and consider this to be a sign of devotion to their job. They may also see themselves as having more control over an employee complying with this kind of behaviour.

When a manager, an employee or several employees feel the need to work overtime as part of their daily routine, it becomes a problem. It could also be a sign of poor or inefficient time management skills, which with practice, can be improved upon.

Understandably, from a manager’s point of view, it can be hard to refuse to take on that one additional project in order to earn more money, using the same resources.

However, a good manager knows that it’s better for an employee not to be sat for long periods of time. Instead, managers should create and provide employees with an environment suitable for or which encourages movement and flexibility.

There are several ways managers can avoid influencing their employees negatively.

Encouraging employees to leave their desks, to get up and move, to walk around the office, to play with the office dog, to go outside for some fresh air, whether on a balcony or in the surrounding areas or even to just take lunch or a coffee away from their desks will be beneficial for everyone.

The evidence that movement benefits cognitive abilities has been extensively proven and “most neuroscientists agree that movement and cognition are powerfully connected.” (Jensen, 2005) The part of the brain particularly affected is that of visual processing, something invaluable if we consider that most sedentary roles require that this particular skill remains strong. Do Sedentary Jobs Affect Health? In short, yes, they do. Can you combat this? Yes, you can but it requires some will power on your part.

If employees thrive, so too does the company they’re a part of. Rather than incapacitating employees with traditional hard graft cubicle environments, providing them with resources such as ergonomic workstations which strengthen their bodies and subsequently their mind power will have much higher rates of success!


Point of View: Developers

An employee may see a manager sat at their desk for long periods of time and try to imitate this behaviour. They may want to show their devotion to the role by mimicking the management through extensive time spent in front of their screens.

The idea that ‘the longer the hours a person works, the better for the company’ is an illusion. It simply isn’t true. Initially, it can lead to temporary positive results but in the long term, it can result in a less productive team.

In some cases an employee may decide that they prefer to remain at the office for personal reasons, rather than going back home they may feel safer or more comfortable in their workspace. This is also a negative habit.

When we’re in the office anyway, we can’t help but continue to work. There are better ways to spend time and it might be better to address the psychological issue of why an employee prefers the office to their home environment.


Removing yourself from your work environment, frees up your mind, encouraging new thought processes and ideas.

There are several ways developers can improve their sedentary position.

  • Pace while speaking on the phone, if you’re on a mobile, stand up and walk around. Investing in a headset can also help keep your hands busy whilst talking.

  • Breaks, this is probably the most important thing to remember. It’s not about making a coffee, taking it to your desk and scrolling through Facebook for ten minutes. It’s about getting up, making a coffee and taking it elsewhere. It’s about walking outside for half an hour or climbing a couple of flights of stairs before returning to your chair.

  • Stand up or ergonomic desks, most of which are adjustable. Although this may seem like a desperate option, it has been proven to work.

  • Foot stool, there are several versions out there which actually keep your legs and your feet moving under your desk. Another option is listening to music and tapping your feet.

We understand that occasionally, when a project is in its final stages and when external contributing factors are to be taken into consideration, it may be necessary to push yourself a little further, to put in those extra hours in order to solve or fix an issue.

The problem arises when overtime becomes a part of your daily routine.A consistent overtime routine kills companies, it’s cultural cancer because simply pretending to sit for longer periods of time is pointless.

Start as you mean to go on, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Working for extended amounts of time at the start of the week can lead to a decline in efficiency throughout and towards the end of the week. Using up all of your energy on the first day may cause you to feel unproductive or guilty when you don’t give every day the same about of energy.

If your company isn’t dealing with overtime, it should be. How long do you spend sitting down on a daily basis? How do you tackle this? Do you have any useful life hacks or tips for sedentary jobs and work environments that you’d like to add?

Please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below or via social media (send us some photos or videos too), you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, let’s connect!

To learn more about App’n’roll, take a look at out our Medium publicationwebsite and our other posts.

All images used are CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).

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