Based on research, people are only really productive for 3 hours a day. As the hours drag on, it becomes less likely that those final overtime hours include peak productivity. In fact, requiring long hours is a surefire way to kill efficiency because financial incentives can’t replace human psychology.
Illustrating this point more simply, an IGDA study showed that after eight 60-hour work weeks, productivity ended up being the same as eight 40-hour weeks. This means employers who exercise consistent overtime work essentially pay more for the same amount of work, while stressing out their employees and contributing to burnout. In a sense, the extra hours are pointless.
In fact, when the a few major companies tracked its most productive employees and their work culture, they came to note that these best performers don’t work the standard eight hours a day. Using frequent breaks similar to the Pomodoro Technique, they worked in sprints, focusing intensely for 52 minutes and taking a break for 17 minutes.
Repetitive tasks are especially prone to boredom and reduced productivity because the longer you repeat something, the less attention you pay to what you’re doing. Providing frequent breaks and staying away from long hours is especially important for workers who perform repetitive manual labor.
From the employer’s perspective, asking employees to stay late and work longer hours comes down to paying more for less work. Or as one manager put it, they’re paying 50% more for 50% less. From any financial standpoint, this is not a very smart investment.