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The Death of the Three-Day Weekend

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Employee productivity is up, but that’s not just because we’re working smarter. It’s also because we’re working more. And much of that employee productivity is happening over the weekend.

Whether the three-day weekend in question is Memorial Day, Labor Day, or when another holiday falls on a Friday or Monday, an NBC News op-ed blames the assassination on one culprit:

[A weekend] would seem an ideal time to take a break, but our ability to unplug and relax is under assault. A three-day weekend? We can barely get through three waking hours without working, new research shows. The average smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times per day, or about once every six minutes. Meanwhile, government data from 2011 says 35 percent of us work on weekends, and those who do average five hours of labor, often without compensation—or even a thank you. The other 65 percent were probably too busy to answer surveyors’ questions.

Smartphone steals the 3-day weekend

© Flickr user liewcf

We’ve advised here on The Methodology Blog before that if you’re on vacation, you should unplug completely. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that they can do this. If they don’t respond instantly to messages from the office, are they running the risk of being passed over for the next promotion? Or are they likely to be first in the unemployment line when the company decides to slash the budget?

Columnist Bob Sullivan continues:

Some experts think these wounds are self-inflicted. Laura Vanderkam, who recently published the eBook, “What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekends,” says that many executives she’s worked with have learned they can unplug for a weekend without dire consequences.

“Many of us have an exaggerated sense of our own importance,” she said, speaking on the eve Memorial Day weekend. “I can tell you that come Tuesday morning, the Earth will still be revolving, whether you have checked your email or not.”

The real challenge is shifting the culture back to one of respect. Just because you can respond instantly, doesn’t mean you should.

Respect yourself enough to take time off. And have enough respect for your employees to trust that they will get back to you when they believe is best.

The three-day weekend may be on life support, but it certainly can be revived.

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