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THE INEFFICIENCY OF OVERTIME

An international time-use study outlining what happens at work


among knowledge workers who work overtime hours.

Presented to:
Time Budgets and Beyond: The Timing of Daily Life
International Association of Time Use Research
32nd Conference, Paris France, July 2010
Mark Ellwood B. Comm.
President, Pace Productivity Inc.
Toronto, Canada
www.GetMoreDone.com

THE INEFFICIENCY OF OVERTIME


Overtime is the amount of time that employees work over and above standard, or normal
working hours. Around the world, these standard hours typically range around 40 hours per
week. Normal hours may be based on contractual agreement, law, traditional practice or custom.
In many countries, work done in excess of this must be compensated at a different rate. Paying
for overtime hours at a 50% premium is common in many jurisdictions. From the companys
perspective, overtime among hourly paid workers encourages a supply of extra labour by paying
a premium for extra hours. As Robert A. Hart points out, the company establishes patterns of
working time that would otherwise not have been forthcoming.
However, salaried workers do not receive extra compensation for overtime hours. They work
more hours than the norm to:

Achieve a level of results beyond expectations in order to obtain a promotion

Reach bonus status, whereby compensation is tied to results

Comply with requests by senior management

Conform with peer pressure

Be consistent with external schedules (e.g. train schedules, car pooling, or night time
courses)

Avoid stresses elsewhere. (For some, the attraction of work occurs when work becomes
like home and home is too much work)

BACKGROUND DATA
While workers today complain about long work hours Juliet Schor estimates that 20th and 21st
century work hours are actually considerably lower than in the mid-nineteenth century. During
this period artificial lighting stretched the workday into the night. Combined with the pressures of
emerging capitalismthe longer workday and the expanding work-year increased hours
dramatically. Whereas I estimate a range of 1,440 to 2,300 hours per year for English peasants
before the seventeenth century, a mid-nineteenth-century work in either England or the United
States might put in an annual level of between 3,150 and 3,650 hours.
Assuming a 52-week year with no vacations, this translates to 60.5 hours to 70.2 hours per week.
A 40-hour work week today, including two weeks vacation and ten statutory holidays translates
to 1,920 hours per year.

During the 20th century, with the rise of unions and more regulated workplaces, hours of work
generally decreased. Deborah Sunter and Ren Morissette show this trend below, noting how
hours of work dropped massively from the beginning to the late 20th century.

Overall U.S. macro statistics show that hours have not changed dramatically over the last thirty
years. The table below shows work hours remaining in the range of 38-39 hours per week.
This might seem surprising to employees who are required to work at least 40 hours and who
have seen an increase in their overtime hours. The data blends full time and part-time employees
together.
TABLE 1 HISTORICAL WORK HOURS
Total
Women
Men
1976
38.4
34.1
41.4
1977
38.5
34.2
41.6
1978
38.7
34.4
41.8
1979
38.6
34.4
41.7
1980
38.3
34.4
41.2
1981
37.9
34.1
40.7
1982
37.7
34.0
40.6
1983
38.1
34.4
41.0
1984
38.6
34.9
41.5
1985
38.9
35.2
41.8
1986
38.9
35.3
41.9
1987
38.8
35.3
41.8
1988
39.3
35.7
42.2
1989
39.4
35.8
42.4
1990
39.3
35.8
42.1
1991
39.1
35.8
41.9
1992
38.8
35.6
41.6
1993
39.3
36.0
42.1
1994
39.1
35.6
42.1
1995
39.2
35.7
42.2
1996
39.2
35.7
42.2
1997
39.4
36.0
42.3
1998
39.2
35.9
42.2
1999
39.5
36.2
42.4
2000
39.6
36.4
42.4
2001
39.2
36.1
41.8
2002
39.1
36.1
41.7
2003
39.0
35.9
41.6
2004
39.0
35.9
41.6
2005
39.1
36.1
41.7
2006
39.2
36.2
41.7
2007
39.1
36.1
41.6
2008
38.8
36.1
41.2
SOURCE: Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Non-Agricultural
industries

However, what the table above does not show is that in the last three decades, there has been an
increasing polarization of work hours. Whereas in the past, production employees targeted
3

towards an ideal 40-hour work week, today, more employees work part-time, more work long
hours and fewer work a 40-hour week.
The following table shows how the share of managers (i.e. a subset of all knowledge workers)
working more than 40 hours has increased.
Chart 1: Share of Managers Working 49 Hours or More Per Week

Source: Bureau of Labour Statistic, Issues in Labour Statistics, Are Managers and Professional Really Working more?

Around the world, there are a number of countries where the incidence of long work hours is
higher than the U.S. Note that these represent a mix of employees or self-employed workers.

Chart 2 - Working Time Around the World

Source: International Labour Organization (ILO), Working Time Around the World (ILO and Routledge 2007), pp 46 51.

RESEARCH QUESTION AND METHODOLOGY


Exasperated employees often comment on the long hours they work. Sometimes it appears to be a
boast those who are busy and working long hours must be more successful than those who
leave the office promptly at the designated close of business, such as 5:00 p.m. Or so the
perception goes.
On the other hand, many comments about long hours reflect genuine angst. Galinsky et al find
that 26% of employees were overworked in the last month and 27% were overwhelmed by how
much work they had to do often or very often in the last month.
Time use research answers the question about how long employees work. Our questions are more
specific;

What happens during overtime in terms of activities?


Are there efficiencies in working overtime?
What are the patterns of activity through the day and through the week?

Understanding long term trends in overtime work is difficult because data usually blends part
time and full time employees to determine a composite work week. It also blends employees
from traditional production industries (manufacturing, mining, transportation) with knowledge
workers (sales reps, managers, clerks).

The focus of this paper deals with knowledge workers. For the most part, these are employees
and self-employed individuals who do the majority of their work in offices, as opposed to
production lines, farms, mines, etc. Their work might include a portion of travel to customer
locations. Some also do a portion of their work from home-based offices. The main distinction of
knowledge workers versus manufacturing workers is that, on the whole, they are not doing work
that requires a physical effort of moving or making things. They are selling, managing, planning,
engineering, providing service, administering, counting, recording, etc.
Data for this study is derived from Pace Productivity Incs proprietary database of 311,711 hours
of real time data recorded on a portable electronic device called a TimeCorder time tracking
system. 3,600 participating employees usually tracked their time on this device for two weeks.
See Appendix 1 for methodology details. Data is from 1990 to 2010.
Time of day data is based on a subset of the main database. Results are based on data from 268
participants, all of whom worked more than 50 hours per week. 60,075 individual time stamped
events were examined data from 2004-2010.

MAJOR FINDINGS
Employees can be classified into categories based on the number of hours they work:
Under 30
30 40
40-45
45-50
50 60
60 70
60-80
80 +

Part time
Undertime
Full time
Extra time
Overtime
Excess time
Extreme time
Danger time

1. Knowledge workers work an average of 46.7 hours per week.


A typical work week includes all of the work an employee is contracted to do, plus lunch and
breaks during the regular workday at a work location. It would also include work done outside of
the office and during the evenings and weekends, but does not including breaks after hours.
Commuting time is not includes, since employees are not paid for this time and commuting
distances vary greatly by employee. Those who work exclusively at home include all of their
lunch and break time during normal hours. (i.e. 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.), but not before or after.
They would also include travel time to their main office, or to customer locations.
These results show that at 46.7 hours per week, employees are working a regular 40 hour week
plus about an extra hour per day.
Data from the Pace Productivity Inc. data (See Appendix 1 for methodology) shows that among
knowledge workers, i.e. those primarily doing salaried office work, the total work week over the
last 20 years has averaged 46.7 hours per week.
The table below shows the last twenty years in 5-year increments. Work hours are higher at either
end of the period may reflect economic conditions. In the early 1990s during an economic
recession and again in 2008-2009, workers may have worked longer hours to preserve jobs that
were in jeopardy of being lost. As Robert A. Hart comments, overtime hours have been found t
respond more quickly than employment stock to fluctuations in business activity. One reason for
this is that overtime decisions are more easily reversible than employment hiring decisions.

TABLE 2 : HISTORICAL TIMECORDER DATA


# of
People in
Sample

Hours
Per
Occasions
week Per Week

1990 - 1995
1996 - 2000
2001 - 2005
2006 - 2010

467
1017
1408
1079

47.6
45.2
46.1
48.4

261
144
167
117

All Years

3971

46.7

159

2. With greater seniority comes longer work hours. Length of activity also increases with
seniority.
Among full time employees who generally work five days per week, municipal workers generally
only work 42.5 hours per week. Some of these are unionized workers with contracts that specify
the number of hours. The other jobs that are lower than the average of 46.7 hours per week do not
have a travel component. Employees stay at one location. Those who are above average have
greater responsibilities, more travel, and more people management components to their jobs.
The chart below shows two scales; the blue bars are work hours per week. The scale for the
maroon bars is in minutes. The bars represent typical durations, showing how long each event
lasts. Those who supervise employees have longer work hours and occasions than those who do
not. Consultants are an exception. Unlike most other employees, their income is directly related
to hours worked they have a different incentive from employees to work long hours.

3. Typical durations become longer with seniority.


Chart 3 below shows two scales; hours worked per week in blue and durations per event in
minutes in maroon. Both scales increase at the same time, however there is not a causal
relationship between hours worked and length of duration. Rather durations increase with added
responsibilities. Inside sales reps and receptionists for instance receive a high number of short
phone calls or customer visits. Hence their durations are short. Middle managers and presidents
on the other hand are more involved with long term planning through meetings. Meanwhile field
supervisors show a long duration because their time spent in the field is usually long.
WEEKLY HOURS BY JOB
AND MINUTES PER EVENT

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Hours Per Week


Duration (Minutes)

ReceptRetail Outside
ion /
Clerical Banking Sales
Asst.
Sales
Rep

Municipal
Worker

Inside
Sales

42.5

43.6

44.6

45

45.5

11

10

14

19

President /
VP

Univ.
Faculty

48.5

48.7

48.8

50.6

54

54

59.7

17

22

38

24

35

33

32

Hours per Week

Middle
Field
ConsultManSuperant
ager
visor

Sales
Mgr

4. Men work more overtime hours than women


Among men the average workweek is 48.2 hours per week. For women, the comparable figure is
44.5 hours. Two reasons for this difference are suggested; a) women in our database tend to be
employed in more clerical jobs, requiring fewer long hours and b) women face greater pressures
to get home to attend to child care and domestic responsibilities as other time use studies have
shown.
The chart below shows how womens work hours are skewed to the lower end, while men find
themselves working longer hours. As such, only 18% of women work more than 50 hours per
week, while 38% of men work more than 50 hours.
CHART 4
HOURS WORKED - MEN VERSUS WOMEN
45%
40%
35%
30%
25%

Female
Male

20%
15%
10%
5%
0%
30-40

40-45

45-50

50-60

60-70

70-80

Though women work fewer hours in employed work, they then go home to engage in what Juliet
B. Schor calls the second shift the duties of housewife and mother. Grocery shopping, picking
up the children and cooking dinner take up the next few hours. After dinner theres clean-up,
possibly some additional housework, and, of course more child care.
Pace Productivitys own study of mothers time (Time Trade-Offs Among Busy Mothers, 2002)
show a work week that consists of 43.3 hours of paid work plus 28.2 hours of child care, and 10.8
hours of household maintenance for a total work week of 82.3 hours.)

10

TIME OF DAY RESULTS


5. More overtime work is done in the morning than evening.
Overtime work occurs more in the morning than after hours. If one considers a normal work
week for knowledge workers to begin at 9:00 a.m. and finish at 5:00 p.m., this would add up to
40 hours per week, including lunch and breaks.
Examining the pattern of activity among 235 employees who worked 50 hours per week or more,
TimeCorder data from 2004-2010 indicates that the average hours worked for this sub set of
workers is 55.5 hours per week. 72% of these hours (or 40 hours per week) are completed during
the 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. period. Of the remainder, 19% occur prior to 9:00 a.m. and only 9%
occur after 5:00 p.m.
An expanded work day shows the same pattern. When the bookends of the day are extended one
hour earlier and one hour later, the result is a work day that stretches from 8:00 a.m. in the
morning until 6:00 p.m. at night. The total time worked during this period now represents 85% of
all hours. Earlier in the morning than that, hours worked are equivalent to 10% of the total.
Meanwhile later in the evening, overtime hours represent just 5% of the total.
Clearly, when people work long hours, there is a greater tendency to come in early and do their
work before the start of the official work day. The chart below show the percent of time spent
during each of the 24-hour periods of the day, starting at midnight, the 0 hour.
Distribution of Time Throughout The Day
Among Those Working 50+ Hours Per Week
12%

10%

8%

6%

4%

2%

0%
0

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Hour of Day ( 0 = Midnight to 1:00 a.m.)

11

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

6. Employees are able to achieve greater concentration, before and after regular hours.
Concentration can be measured by the duration of tasks how long each one lasts. The greater
the interruptions, the shorter the duration. The average duration among those who work overtime
is 22 minutes. (Note that the average among all employees is just 15 minutes those in more
senior positions who tend to do more overtime hours have longer durations.)
There are not many activities that occur very early in the morning or very late at night. However
when they do occur, they tend to be quite long. Early morning events tend to be the longest.
Before work from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., durations are 34-39 minutes long. During the regular
day (9-5) they average 22 minutes. Around lunch time, activities are longer because lunch breaks
take longer than short phone calls, etc. Afternoon events are slightly shorter than those in prelunch hours. Then, late in the evening, the length of events picks up, but only to 30 minutes, not
as long as the early morning hours.
Duration of Tasks Throughout the Day - in Minutes
60

Duration in Minutes

50

40

30

20

10

0
0

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

Hour of Day ( 0 = Midnight to 1:00 a.m.)

7. There is a concentration of administrative activities during overtime hours.


The pattern of selected activities is shown in the chart below. Among those who work more than
50 hours per week (on average 55.5 hours) the patterns for a select number of activities reflects
the overall pattern. That is, more overtime work is done prior to 9:00 a.m. than after 5:00 p.m.
The major exceptions are meetings with ones manager, reading, and time sheets. More of the
overtime hours spent for these three activities occur after the end of the day than in the morning.
Low percentages in the first column indicate that a large proportion of the work is being
conducted outside of regular hours. The average for all activities is 72%. This table shows a
12

23

selection of activities that a large number of time study participants have tracked. The table is
organized from lowest to highest activities at the top of the list are more prone to being done
during overtime hours. (The grey bar separates those that are above and below the average.)
Those at the top where much of the work is done during overtime tend to be more administrative
and less customer-focused. The one exception is Special Projects, which is not an administrative
task. When work on this high priority activity can be done alone, overtime represents a
productive time to do it.
Sample Group: Those working over 50 hours per week

Selected Activities

% of Work being done during:


9:00 a.m. to All Overtime Midnight to 5:00 p.m. to
5:00 p.m.
Hours
9 :00 a.m.
midnight

Team meetings
Miscellaneous Emails
Meet with manager
Management Meetings
Planning the day
Time Sheets
Internal phone calls
Special projects
Internal Communications
Personal Training
Administration / Paperwork
Call Reports
Safety Compliance
Emergency customer response
Voice mail listen / respond
Account Administration
Reading
Branch Administration

43%
50%
55%
57%
59%
59%
60%
60%
60%
62%
63%
63%
64%
65%
69%
70%
70%
71%

57%
50%
45%
43%
41%
41%
40%
40%
40%
38%
37%
37%
36%
35%
31%
30%
30%
29%

42%
42%
13%
42%
25%
16%
34%
38%
34%
28%
25%
16%
35%
17%
23%
26%
12%
17%

16%
9%
32%
1%
16%
25%
6%
2%
6%
10%
12%
21%
1%
17%
8%
4%
18%
12%

Coaching / mentoring
Business travel
Miscellaneous
Sales prospecting calls
Supervision
Quote preparation
Marketing
Generate / manage leads
Credit Applications
Customer phone inquiries
Sales meetings with prospects
Internal Meetings
Personal time

72%
73%
77%
78%
79%
80%
84%
85%
86%
88%
88%
88%
89%

28%
27%
23%
22%
21%
20%
16%
15%
14%
12%
12%
12%
11%

15%
21%
17%
11%
2%
9%
5%
7%
7%
5%
8%
10%
4%

13%
6%
6%
11%
18%
11%
10%
9%
7%
7%
3%
2%
7%

13

Sample Group: Those working over 50 hours per week

Selected Activities

% of Work being done during:


9:00 a.m. to All Overtime Midnight to 5:00 p.m. to
5:00 p.m.
Hours
9 :00 a.m.
midnight

Sales meetings with customers


Customer service meetings
Personnel planning
Walk-in customer appt.

89%
92%
94%
96%

11%
8%
6%
4%

8%
5%
5%
3%

3%
3%
0%
1%

ALL ACTIVITIES

72%

28%

19%

9%

OTHER TIME OF DAY / TIME OF WEEK FINDINGS

The biggest spike for team / department meetings is between 8 and 9 a.m.

Email sessions peak at 60 minutes on Sundays versus just 25 minutes during the week.
The biggest hours for handling miscellaneous email are 6-8 a.m. representing 21% of all
the time on this activity

Planning happens as much on Sunday as any other activity (2% of the total week). On
those occasions when it occurs, planning is very long 130 minutes versus a typical 10-15
minutes during the week. The peak times for planning are 8-10 in the morning.

Professional reading is never done on the weekend. Those who take materials from the
office expecting to read them at home either conduct other work activities first, or do
none at all.

Management meetings tend to occur between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. They are longest on
Wednesdays, peaking at 115 minutes versus 30-90 minutes on other days. Fridays are the
shortest at just 30 minutes

Coaching sessions occur later in the day than other activities, peaking at 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Prospect meetings peak between 10 and 11 a.m. Prospecting calls occur mostly between 9
and 5, dropping off at noon for an hour. Longest times for calls are at 9, 3 and
surprisingly 8 p.m. when calls lengthen to 13 minutes versus only 10 minutes the rest of
the time.

Customer phone inquires are above average on the weekends, representing 11% of the
time. They tend to peak between 10 and 11 in the morning most days.

Walk-in appointments, largely related to retail banking, occur 9% of the time on


Saturdays because often branches are open on this day. Zero walk-ins occur on Sunday
14

when branches are closed. However, these tend to be the shortest occasions. Averaging
only 10 minutes versus 12-16 minutes during weekdays. Of these, Fridays are the longest.
Though a greater number of walk-ins occur on Monday and Tuesday. Mornings are busier
than afternoons.

There is a spike in returning voice mails at 9:00 a.m. Although those who work overtime
come in early in the morning, they tend to wait until everyone else is in to call them.

Customer service meetings skew towards the afternoon from noon to 3 p.m. Weekend
activities are very rare.

Emergency responses have the largest weekend component. Fully 25% of the time spent
on emergencies is done on weekends.

Miscellaneous activities occur 8% of the time on the weekends, slightly above average.

Meetings with ones manager regarding performance tend to fall outside normal hours.
These often occur between 6 and 8 p.m. These one-on-one meetings are conducted in the
relative quiet of after hours, reflecting on the events of the day.

Quote preparations never occur on the weekend, perhaps because other internal
departments are not available to provide input and support. It is often difficult to prepare
complicated quote on ones own.

Time sheets are often done on Saturdays. While the frequency of events on Saturday is
low, the time spent for each event is high. Saturday time is 13% of the total

The biggest day for generating and managing leads is Monday (31% of the time). Activity
drops off considerable all the way through Friday (14% of the time.). Sales reps who are
re-energized after the weekend get off to a strong start each new week. Perhaps they
intuitively recognized that Friday afternoons are a time of lighter work, and hence do not
make their calls at that time.

The exception is special projects. They tend to get done early in the morning, more than
almost any other activity except for team meetings and emails.

15

8. There is no efficiency in working overtime.


During overtime, the percentage of time spent on high priority work increases only slightly, while
time spent on secondary or support activities is replaced by non-value added activities.
Many employees will say that they often arrive at work early in the morning because thats
when I get all my work done. The idea is that with fewer people around, there are fewer
interruptions, scheduled meetings, calls from customers, staff to supervise, and emergency
situations to take care of. Thus the assumption that employees made is that the border times, early
and late, are when high priority task and important work gets done.
In fact, there is no greater emphasis on high priority tasks during overtime hours. While
additional time becomes available for a few high priority tasks, there are others that cannot be
done during this time and so administrative tasks fill in the time.
Our research includes data from 1831 activities, primarily those done by knowledge workers.
These are employees who are managing, selling, serving customers, supervising staff, planning,
engineering, managing projects, answering customer queries, etc. Together, these activities fall
into the eleven categories within three major groups, described below.
A) PRIORITY ACTIVITIES
Planning - Activities in this category deal with forward thinking and planning, from planning
ones day to long term strategic planning.
Selling - These activities are meant to increase sales, either to current customers or to new
prospects. Some sales are to individuals (i.e. banking), most are business to business. Selling is
done primarily on the phone, or in person. In a few cases, sales correspondence is included.
Management - Management includes direction of employees. This includes coaching and
managing staff, personnel planning, dealing with personnel issues, job site supervision, running team
meetings, scheduling staff, performance reviews.

Client / Customer Service - These are activates that clients pay for.
B) SUPPORT / SECONDARY ACTIVITIES
Client Administration - These activities occur just prior to a sale being made and just after.
They include preparing quotes entering orders in the system, and setting up clients. All of the
behind-the-scenes activities are included here.
Internal Operations - These activities advance a sale or customer service. Production activities
occur here, for instance.
Miscellaneous - These are activities that do not show up anywhere else. They are business
activities that did not appear any where else on participants list of activities to track. They might
fit into any one of these major categories.

16

C) NON-VALUE ADDED ACTIVITIES


Administration - These are internal activities that are not directly connected with specific
customers or clients. They include many paperwork and administrative activities such as writing
internal reports. A number of internal meetings are included, such as regular staff meetings that
are not involved with long term planning. They are regular update and information meetings.
Travel - Only business travel is included, not commuting. This includes traveling directly to
work sites or to customer locations directly from a home office. Traveling to a regular office
location (commuting) is not included because it is not an activity that that employees are paid for.
Personal Time - While at work, employees need to take breaks for the washroom and for lunch.
Occasionally these are contractually agreed. In some cases, employees are required to work 37.5
hours during a 5-day week, and are allowed an hour a day for lunch. We include these hours.
Whether or not the employee is being paid, he or she is at or near the work premises. Other
personal activities that might occur during the work week include calling a spouse or day care,
conducting banking, or conducting personal business on-line. It might also include chatting with
co-workers. When employees work overtime outside of their main office location (i.e. at home),
these hours are not included in their work time.
Emergencies - Emergencies are customer related activities that ideally would never occur. They
occasionally need to be done, but are highly disruptive to personal and organizational schedules.

With the three classifications, we examined time use data from 1990 through to 2010, classifying
1,760 activities into one of the 11 major categories. Then these categories were re-grouped into
those that are priorities, those that are supporting activities, and those that are non-supporting
activities. In the latter case, these are necessary parts of the job.

17

HOURS PER WEEK BY CATEGORY


20
18
16
Hours Per Category

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

30-40

40-45

45-50

50-60

60-70

Administration

7.3

7.7

10.4

11.2

14.1

70-80
18.8

Customer Service

6.1

7.8

10.4

9.3

11.1

Client Admin

6.3

6.6

4.8

3.6

Selling

5.6

6.4

6.3

6.2

7.8

4.3

3.7

5.6

Planning

2.2

3.1

3.3

4.1

8.1

Management

1.8

2.6

3.4

5.3

8.1

5.9

Miscelleneous

2.8

2.2

2.5

2.6

2.6

0.3

Internal Operations

1.9

2.1

2.3

3.5

4.2

1.8

Travel

0.6

0.7

1.4

2.8

5.5

6.8

Personal Time

With overall increased hours worked, most categories show an increase. An exception is client
administration. Activities in this category are usually done by employees who have no incentive to
work long hours. Those at more senior levels in the organization, who usually work longer hours, do
not have client administration as a main task.

18

HOURS PER WEEK BY MAJOR CATEGORY


40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

30-40

40-45

45-50

50-60

60-70

70-80

Primary Activities

16

19

21

26

30

33

Non-Value Added

12

13

16

18

24

36

Supporting Activities

11

11

11

12

12

As shown in the chart above, time spent on high priority activities increases as more hours are
worked. But so does non-value added time, at faster rate. Meanwhile, supporting activities are
constant until extreme hours are worked, at which point they begin to decline.

19

DAYS OF THE WEEK


The following analysis focuses solely on those who work more than 50 hours per week and looks
at when overtime occurs. We assume a standard 9-5 work week of 40 hours as a base. In this
analysis, time stamp data was selected from 267 individuals for whom time stamp data is
available. Data includes results from 2004-2010. The average work week among this group is
55.5 hours per week.
9. Slightly More work is done on Wednesdays than other days, representing 20% of the
time. The lowest weekday is Friday, representing 18% of the time. Weekends are much
smaller, with Saturday equivalent to 3% of the time and Sunday 2 %.

TIME SPENT BY DAY AMONG THOSE WORKING OVERTIME


25%

20%

15%

10%

5%

0%
Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

20

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

10. Work done on Fridays by those who work overtime drops off versus the other days in
all three major segments of the day; morning, evening and during the day.
With the impending weekend, employees are keen to work or shorter day and take time off. Also,
knowing that they have a buffer of available overtime hours on Saturday and Sunday, they may
postpone overtime on Friday in lieu of picking it up on the weekend.
TIME SPENT BY DAY AMONG OVERTIME WORKDERS
350

,000 IN MINUTES IN SAMPLE

300

250

200

150

100

50

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Before 9

53

62

67

61

57

Sunday
4

During day

202

204

205

204

189

29

15

After 5

27

25

27

26

17

11. Typical durations for activities average 23 minutes among those who work overtime.
That is, using the TimeCorder device, employees switched from one activity to another every 23
minutes. This includes relative long travel trips, meetings (averaging 39 minutes each), personal
breaks, etc. which offset relatively short activities such as phone calls and interruptions from coworkers.

21

12. Durations are the longest on Sundays.


During the week, typical durations range from 22-25 minutes. On Saturdays, the durations are
much shorter. Although very little overtime work occurs on Saturday, when it does there are
more interruptions than any other time, resulting in a typical duration of just 15 minutes. Then on
Sunday there is more concentrated time, resulting in a duration of 47 minutes.
TYPICAL DURATIONS IN MINUTES - ALL TASKS
60

50

Duration in Minutes

40

30

20

10

0
Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Day of Week

When employees do planning, they spend long amounts of time on it during Sundays.
TYPICAL DURATIONS IN MINUTES
PLANNING DAILY SCHEDULE ACTIVITY
60

Duration in Minutes

50

40

30

20

10

0
Day of Week

22

Duration

IMPLICATIONS

Employers need to understand the work patterns of employees who work overtime. They
are more inclined to work before the start of the day than after. This affects the timing of
employee benefits programs such as fitness classes, daycare, and even cafeteria / snack
bar offerings (i.e. breakfasts instead of pizza dinners). It also affects when meetings can
be held.

Major priority activities need to be scheduled during prime hours. During overtime hours,
customers, team members, and other departments are not always available. Therefore
priority work that involves others needs to be done during regular hours. (The exception
to this is when those contacted reside in other time zones.)

Employers need to offer and support family friendly policies to women (primarily) who
wish to work regular hours and get home to take care of unpaid work responsibilities
such as child care and domestic maintenance.

The challenge for organizations is not to simply shift the time when administration tasks
get done, but to eliminate them, automate them, or delegate them.

Mornings create better opportunities for concentrated activities, as measured by duration


length, than evenings. Those who want to spend extended times on projects are better
coming in early than staying late. As for the day of the week, Sundays are best for
achieving concentrated effort.

Employees who expect that their long work hours are only temporary are working under a
false assumption. As one rises up through the organization, working hours become longer.
So there is no break that occurs with seniority, unless employees employ effective time
management techniques or unless the organizations culture supports healthy work-life
balance.

23

REFERENCES
Ciulla, Joanne B. The Working life: the promise and betrayal of modern work, Random House
2008
Ellwood, Mark Time Trade Offs Among Busy Mothers, International Time Use Conference,
University of Waterloo, 2002
Galinsky et al, Over work in America, a report by the Families and Work Institute, 2004
Hart, Robert A The Economics of Overtime Working, Cambridge University Press, 2004
Hoshschild, Arlie Russell, The Time Bind, Metropolitan Books, 1997
Schor, Juliet B. The Overworked American, BasicBooks, A Division of Harper Collins, 1992
Sunter, Deborah and Morrisette, Rene The hours people work, Perspective on Labour and Income
Magazine, Autumn 1994, Volume 6, no. 3, Article 2

24

APPENDIX 1 : TIME TRACKING METHODOLOGY


This summarizes data from a number of corporate time studies, each of which was designed with
a different purpose. Objectives include benchmarking, determining best practices, setting
standards, improving time management, building business plans, etc.
It is a summary of data combined from 98 time studies commissioned by corporate clients.
Typically these were designed to identify what activities make up the day of a group of
employees. For this paper, managers have been isolated.
Pace Productivity Inc. has conducted these studies on behalf of corporate clients since 1990.
The database of results gathered from 1990 to 2005 contains over 170,864 hours of real time
data, covering 678,979 events.
Focusing on managers only, this group of 385 participants tracked their time for 42,639
cumulative hours, recording 126,401 events.
The purpose of the typical study is to improve organizational effectiveness by creating an
environment where employees can spend the greatest amount of time on their highest priority
tasks. The corollary to this is that they should spend as little time as possible on their lowest
priority tasks those that do not contribute directly to results.
In other academic research, the interest has been to study the role of a manager how he or she is
effective in doing the job. In this study, the concern is more about what is to be achieved what
the output of the job is. For instance, regardless of whether the manager uses meetings, face-toface contact or email, are sales calls being made? Are orders being processed? Are customer
service reps being coached to do their jobs better?
The TimeCorder electronic device used to gather the data was introduced in the spring of 2004.
The previous version of the device was slightly larger and heavier and had a flip top lid. The
newer version of the device is 4 inches wide by 7 inches long (deep).

The TimeCorder device allows users to easily track their time by pushing buttons associated with
pre-coded activities. It has a series of buttons labeled A to Z. Each button is associated with an
activity. Each time a study participant presses a new button, time stops recording on the previous
activity and begins recording on a new one, like a chess clock in reverse. In addition to
cumulative time, the TimeCorder also tracks the number of occasions for each activity. When a
button is pressed, the count for that activity increases by one. In the report, the accumulation of
25

these is referred to as occasions. By dividing cumulative time by the number of occasions, a


typical duration is derived. It is the average length of time for which an activity occurs, expressed
in minutes. Data recorded with the TimeCorder is tracked accurately to the second.
Employees consistently embrace TimeCorder studies with enthusiasm. This is because a unique
methodology that a) gets them involved from the beginning, b) asks for their input c) makes the
process fun and d) gives them instant feedback. Cooperation level, based on an initial review of
raw data is approximately 96%.
Typically the managers in this database are middle managers and above. For instance, production
line supervisors or team leads for clerical staff are not included.
Following is a list of industries from which data has been collected:

Financial Services
Manufacturing
Wholesale Distribution
Retail
Consulting
Banking

Advertising Sales
Travel
Computer Software
Professional
Hospitality
Public Service

Typically, the purpose for conducting a time study was to gather data to:
Increase organizational effectiveness
Recruit qualified managers and staff
Train managers to acquire and apply new skills
Eliminate activities that dont contribute to primary job functions
Provide appropriate technology that automates mechanical, clerical, repetitive tasks
Introduce systems that facilitate communications without adding to administrative work.

26

THOSE WORKING 30-40 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 277)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

2.2
5.6
1.8
6.3
6.1
1.9
7.3
0.6
2.8
0.0
4.0

6%
15%
5%
16%
16%
5%
19%
2%
7%
0%
10%

9
21
5
24
35
10
31
1
9
0
9

15
16
21
16
10
11
14
26
18
12
26

38.5

100%

155

15

THOSE WORKING 40-45 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 909)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

3.1
6.4
2.6
7.0
7.0
2.1
7.7
0.7
2.2
0.1
4.3

7%
15%
6%
16%
16%
5%
18%
2%
5%
0%
10%

13
22
7
30
35
10
36
2
8
0
10

14
17
22
14
12
12
13
25
17
23
26

43.3

100%

174

15

THOSE WORKING 45-50 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 744)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

3.3
6.3
3.4
6.6
7.8
2.3
10.3
1.4
2.5
0.1
4.0

7%
13%
7%
14%
16%
5%
21%
3%
5%
0%
8%

11
22
8
25
26
11
51
3
8
0
9

17
17
25
16
18
12
12
30
18
31
26

48.3

100%

175

17

27

THOSE WORKING 60-60 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 588)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

4.1
6.0
5.3
6.0
10.4
3.5
11.2
2.8
2.6
0.4
3.7

7%
11%
9%
11%
19%
6%
20%
5%
5%
1%
7%

12
22
11
21
30
10
40
5
6
0
9

21
16
29
17
21
20
17
34
24
49
24

55.8

100%

167

20

THOSE WORKING 60-70 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 108)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

6.0
6.2
8.1
4.8
9.3
4.2
14.1
5.5
2.6
1.8
3.0

9%
9%
12%
7%
14%
6%
21%
8%
4%
3%
5%

14
17
14
15
24
9
39
10
5
1
7

26
22
34
19
24
29
22
34
30
213
25

65.6

100%

154

26

THOSE WORKING 70-80 HOURS PER WEEK (N = 18)


Hours
Percent
Duration
Per Week
of Time
Occasions (Minutes)
Planning
Selling
Management
Client Administration
Customer Service
Internal Operations
Administration
Travel
Miscellaneous
Emergencies
Personal Time
TOTAL

8.1
7.8
5.9
3.6
11.1
1.8
18.8
6.8
0.3
4.9
5.6

11%
10%
8%
5%
15%
2%
25%
9%
0%
7%
7%

19
22
14
15
18
4
47
11
2
2
11

26
22
26
14
38
28
24
38
13
132
30

74.6

100%

163

27

28

Exhibit 1
Account Executive
Accounting Clerk
Acct Mgr Small Business
Admin Assistant / Support
Analyst
Arborist
Area Manager
Assistant Principal
Assistant Risk Manager
Assistant Store Manager
Assistant Vice President
Asst. Mgr. Personal Banking
Branch Administrator
Branch Manager
Branch Systems
Administrator
Business Direct Acct. Mgr.
Business Internet Officer
Business Officer (Retail)
Caregiver
Cashier Account Clerk
Central Teller
Clerk of Works
Comm. Ban Relationship
Mgr
Commercial Bank Support
Committee Coordinator
Secretary Treasurer
Community Relationship Rep
Compliance Officer / Quality
Consultant
Consultative Account
Manager
Controller / CFO
Corporate Service Assistant
Credit Filing Staff
Credit Officer
Credit Rep
Credit Solutions
Credit Supervisor
Customer Service Rep
Customer Support Engineer
Deputy Clerk

JOBS TRACKED

Doctor
Documentation Staff
Truck Driver
Drug Rep
Electrical General Foreman
Expert
Facilities Coordinator
Facility Laborer
Facility Manager
Financial Advisor /
Investment Executive
Forestry General Foreman
Graphic Artist
House Person (Hotel)
Information Services Staff
Inside / Transactional
Telesales Rep
Inside Sales Rep
Lab / Quality Manager
Lawyer
Licensing Director
Manager
Manager - Commercial
Admin Support
Manager - HR Administration
Manager Compliance
Manager Customer Service
Manager of Records,
Election Services
Manager Personal Banking
Mgr. Product / Mrkt Analysis
Market Development
Planning Manager
Marketing / Communications
Marketing Manager
Marketing Officer (Retail)
MIS / Project Officer
Municipal Worker
Neighbourhood Sales Rep
Nurse
Performance Supervisor
Personal Banking Assistant
Personal Banking Officer

29

Planner
Plant Manager
Policy Documentation
President
Principal
Product Manager
Product Support
Production Manager
Professional Organizer
Professional Speaker
Project Coordinator
Project Manager
Purchasing
Receptionist / Admin Asst.
Recreation Coordinator
Refinery Manager
Relationship Manager
Repair Specialist
University Faculty
Retail Store Clerk
Risk and Portfolio Manager
Sales Assistant
Sales Co-Ordinator Rep
Sales Engineer
Sales Manager
Sales Representative
Scientist
Senior Manager
Service Officer
Store Manager
Store Manager Trainee
Store Merchandiser
Team Lead
Technologist
Teller - Custmr Service Rep
Territory Manager - Retail
Town Planner
Treasurer
Unit Financial Control (UFC)
Vice President
Volunteer
Warehousemen / Stockroom
Zoning Coordinator