Did you know you've been working for free for two months?

Today is Work Your Proper Hours Day. I know, catchy.

The number of hours we Brits spend working overtime is worth than a whopping £28bn to the economy. That’s why Trade Union Congress (TUC) has dedicated Friday 28 February to “Work Your Proper Hours” Day to encourage Britons to take their full lunch breaks and leaving on time.

It’s the day where when the average Brit who does unpaid overtime finishes the unpaid days they do every year, and starts earning for themselves.

According to the TUC, one in five people regularly work unpaid overtime. Not only do employees each give away an average of £6,100 a year in unpaid work, many people doing free overtime end up getting burnt out – an issue we covered in our stress in the city feature.

There are many reasons why people work overtime but a culture of presenteeism can be a major factor.

Research carried out by refurbishment specialist Overbury found presenteeism, in this case going into the office to work rather than working from home, is seriously damaging productivity.

Four out of five people surveyed said those who spend more time in the office are thought by bosses to be working harder, while two thirds thought being seen to work late increases an employee’s chance of being promoted.

It seems that is pretty much true, as half of senior managers said they would be less likely to recommend someone for a promotion if that person had spent less time in the office.

While bosses might secretly be a little pleased to find such a large proportion of people are working overtime seemingly at no extra cost to the business, they’d be wrong to do so.

The research also found 70% of people thought they got through twice the amount of work at home. This means a person working their proper hours at home is likely to get more work done than someone saying late at the office.

Young people seem to feel the pressure of being in the office more than their seniors. Four out of five 18-24 year olds said it exists in their workplace, compared with two thirds of those over 54.

While the issue exists across all industries, according to the report, the creative industries were by far the worst, with 82% of employees saying there was a culture of presenteeism in their workplace.

Anyone reading this who sends emails early in the morning to stop colleagues thinking they’re having a lie-in when they’re working from home will find, to their relief, they are not alone.

More than two thirds of people surveyed admitted doing this.

However, despite the obvious peer pressure driving the problem, only one in 10 people had received a negative comment about not being in the office enough… to their face anyway.

TED agrees

If you don’t believe the TUC and Overbury, watch these TED Talks.


E-GUIDE: Flexible working: The good manager’s guidebook

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