FLAME University


FLAME in the news

Opinion: Rest is productive

www.telanganatoday.com | November 23, 2023

Time away from work helps the brain consolidate the day’s memories, replenishing it as well as promoting productivity and increased creativity

There’s nothing, no task, no paycheck, no project that’s more important than you and your well-being. — Laura Pendergrass, Industrial Psychologist

Infosys’s co-founder Narayana Murthy’s remark on a “70-hour work week” for the youth has sparked multiple debates and huge criticism from professionals across industries. Murthy argued the idea of a 70-hour work week to improve productivity among Indian employees claiming the country to have the “lowest productivity”. But is working long hours truly the solution to increased productivity?

According to a McKinsey report, Indian employees have the highest burnout rate, followed by Japan. Several other reports have concluded that the Indian workforce is highly stressed, overworked and dissatisfied at the workplace. Such alarming reports of the workplace prove to be extremely problematic in the current scenario where work is perceived as worship and the boundaries between work and life are ever so blurry. India’s economic struggles have led to individuals developing a “scarcity mindset”, which combined with praise and constant reinforcement have led to these boundaries of life and work becoming blurry. This work-oriented culture brings with itself a concerning problem of an individual’s work becoming their identity marker.

Overwork Culture

The overwork culture is not only a result of societal expectations and toxic workplace environments but rather a result of a more deep-rooted and internalised perception of work that an individual is conditioned to believe. The hustle culture is largely to be blamed for this mass burnout in Indian employees leading to decreased productivity, work dissatisfaction, poor work-life balance, mental health challenges and more. These workplace challenges, sadly, are intertwined such that the disruption of one automatically affects the other. Employees with poor work-life balance are bound to experience burnout, thus eventually leading to lowered productivity and decreased work performance.

According to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Indians dedicate 48 hours on average per week to their work, thus making them one of the most hardworking employees globally. However, long working hours only sometimes equate to productivity. In fact, an essential and often overlooked aspect of productivity is rest. The slogan of “hustle, hustle, hustle” proudly held by some fails to deliver when rest, or rather a balance is not incorporated into one’s routine.

Researcher Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in his book, wrote “Rest is not this optional leftover activity. Work and rest are actually partners. They are like different parts of a wave. You can’t have the high without the low. The better you are at resting, the better you will be at working.”

Post the pandemic, the rules of the workplace have changed drastically as most organisations adopted a hybrid mode of working. While some state to work better in a hybrid setting, others have noticed a clear decrease in productivity and poor work-life balance. This overspill of work into an individual’s personal life has taken a whole new level as the hybrid model of working blurs these lines. It is also not a coincidence that mental health post-pandemic, especially among the youth, has been worst affected by the extremely concerning rise in cases of depression and anxiety.

Breaks and Well-being

Various studies have shown the link between taking regular breaks and its positive impact on not only productivity but also on the emotional and physical well-being of an individual in general. Functioning on auto-pilot leads to burnout and decreased performance over time thus starting a vicious cycle. However, a well-balanced lifestyle and intentionally prioritising rest can help boost productivity by giving the mind and the body enough time to recharge. Signing off from one’s workplace at a particular time, understanding the importance of weekends, intentionally drawing boundaries between work and family and so on can help an individual mindfully choose rest.

Research on sleep, downtime and rest has concluded that the brain requires sleep and downtime to function at its highest capacity. Time away from work helps the brain consolidate the day’s memories, replenishing it as well as promoting productivity and increased creativity.

Sleeping a minimum of 7 hours a day, practising mindfulness, intentionally setting clear boundaries and protecting your energy both during and after work hours are a few small ways to give your mind and body the rest they need and deserve. Another important implication of rest is the quality of it. We need not be bogged down by the quantity of rest if its quality is ensured. Using personalised strategies and techniques such as journalling, breathing techniques, meditation and hobbies that have proven to be effective might be beneficial in achieving this.

Priorities, Planning

To quote the entrepreneur and author Gary Keller, “Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse. Keeping busy or burning the midnight oil… It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.” With the over-glorification of “hustle” and “grind” in and beyond the workplace, and the toxic and ever-blurry boundaries between work and life, it is more important now than ever before to prioritise rest and restoration.

According to a study, individuals with predictable and consistent downtime from work were more productive and creative in the long run as they felt mentally rested, thus also leading to an increase in motivation and job satisfaction at the workplace. Yet another study found that 40% of an individual’s most creative ideas come from times of rest. Needless to say, it is imperative to understand that rest is a privilege. Especially in the Indian context with widespread oppression, someone’s rest is another’s productivity.

However, true productivity does not necessarily equate to longer working hours, rather productivity that produces good work stems from working smart, protecting time and energy, and prioritising emotional and physical well-being.

This article has been authored by Ishita Malhotra, Undergraduate Student, FLAME University, and Prof. Moitrayee Das, Faculty of Psychology, FLAME University.

(Source:- https://telanganatoday.com/opinion-rest-is-productive )