Prepare to celebrate! Monday, June 2, is National Leave the Office Early Day, an event actually designed to increase efficiency and productivity with the incentive of going home sooner. Rather than leaving work unfinished, the goal is is to get more done in less time, allowing more time with family and friends and the chance to enjoy some rest and relaxation, although some may find those two objectives to be mutually exclusive.
The observance was created in 2004 by Laura Stack, a bestselling author and expert in workplace issues who is also a specialist in employee productivity. June 2 happens to be her birthday, and she thought no one should work more than eight hours on their birthday. When June 2 falls on a weekend day, Leave the Office Early Day is celebrated on the nearest Monday or Friday.
Employers hope that the increased productivity may transfer to regular days of the work week, allowing more to be accomplished in a regular working day. There is also a managerial strategy involved in allowing employees to go home early. If the theory that happy workers are more productive workers really holds true the day can be seen as positive reinforcement for a job well done. In addition, the early dismissal carrot can result in better teamwork among an often-stratified workforce, as all strive toward a common goal that also results in greater productivity.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that Americans tend to work about 49 hours per week, so June 2 might be especially welcome for those who are able to leave the office early. Additionally, Americans now take shorter vacations than their parents did, and spend time working at home, resulting in an increase in the work schedule of 163 hours per year since the 1970s. For many, leaving the office early could actually mean simply leaving on time.
Stack offers some tips for actually being able to leave early with the work done on Leave the Office Early Day. She says to tackle first the least-enjoyable tasks. For the first two hours do not answer the phone or open email, but concentrate on the tasks that require the most concentration. And focus, not jumping from project to project before finishing the first one.
Stack references a Microsoft Corp. study that found that workers only average about three productive days per week, and cites the trend of going into hyper-drive the week before vacation in an often vain attempt to get everything done. She says employees need to harness that same focus and energy in typical daily situations so that free time is available to them every week. The Microsoft survey of 1,575 U.S. workers indicated that 38 percent of managers vacation along with their PDAs and laptop computers in order to stay connected to their desks. Now that it is possible to work and check email from virtually anywhere, employees are wirelessly tethered to their offices more than ever.
Employers and employees alike are generally happy to see the end of the workday and get back to their own lives, so June 2 provides an opportunity for that reward to happen earlier for businesses that allow their workers to celebrate Leave the Office Early Day. Workers give a shout for Laura Stack and go home early!
By Beth A. Balen