You’d be forgiven for thinking that working in a technology startup or scaleup is all fun and games, but the truth is that launching a business is hard work.
It’s not unusual for employees to work long hours, but doing so can have a devastating effect on their health, wellbeing and personal lives. It can also have an impact on business performance.
Despite this all of this, it seems workers in the UK are continuing to work overtime without compensation.
According to official statistics published by the Trade Union Congress today, UK workers put in a total of 2.1 billion unpaid hours last year – gifting their employers an estimated £33.6bn worth of free labour.
Branding the statistics as “shocking”, Chris McCullough, CEO and co-founder of staff scheduling software RotaGeek, commented on how technology has the potential to completely transform the way people work.
“It’s time UK businesses took advantage of this,” he said.
As much as startup culture is typically characterised by long hours, McCullough doesn’t think this is the most productive way of working and is much more interested in increasing efficiency and productivity.
This should come as no surprise, given the UK’s productivity gap is well known. In his autumn statement last year, Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer, commented on how it took a German worker four days to produce what their UK counterpart would do in five.
“In turn, this means that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts,” Hammond said at the time.
With this in mind, McCullough argued that staff should be allowed to monitor their own hours based on what is most productive, or works best for them.
“So whether that is working from the afternoon until late at night, late at night until the early morning, or even 9-5, at RotaGeek we encourage employees to work the hours that suit them best,” he commented.
“By reducing the number of hours worked, productivity increases. Therefore my advice would be: don’t judge your team on how many hours they are in the office. Judge them on how productive they are,” McCullough said.
A tired workforce
Long working hours, coupled with complicated and sometimes pedantic commutes, are having a significant impact on the way in which employees feel.
“We spend our lives on congested roads or waiting for trains that never arrive. The time feels like work, but is in most cases non-productive dead time,” Matthew Finnie, CTO of global cloud services platform Interoute, said.
Combine this with the pressure that staff feel to be in the office for at least the 9 – 5:30 working day with today’s switched on culture and you have a very real problem.
“You have a work force that is tired, time-poor and under pressure, often before the working day has even started,” he noted.
Although there’s not much that can be done to change the amount of time employees spend commuting to and from work, employers should seek to offer a more flexible way of working.
“The question we should be asking is, have we eliminated the constraints of how and where we work? There shouldn’t be a requirement that workers have to stay behind in the office to access systems or engage because the ‘technology isn’t there’,” Finnie claimed, adding that today’s digital infrastructure was sufficiently mature to support most forms of work within reason.
“There really is no excuse these days,” he added.
Turning an idea into a business is no easy task, but with the help of an engaged – and more importantly satisfied workforce – it should be far less complicated.
What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments below.