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Professionals may be clocking in long working hours worldwide, but how many of them are actually doing work during those long hours?
According to new research by Erin Reid, assistant professor of organisation at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, employees might just be faking their 80-hour work week, and instead only getting by with 50 and 60 hours per week.
But interestingly, these employees were getting the job done and being rewarded with rave reviews and promotions, just like those who really did work 80-hour weeks.
As reported by the New York Times, when Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm with access to their performance reviews and internal HR documents, she found that there are three main groups of people.
There were those who openly rejected the long working hours the firm has and asked for flexi-hours and those who embraced the hours and tended to be the top performers.
Then there was the third, most interesting group of people, who were deceiving their managers into believing they were working more.
31% of men and 11% of women were found to have faked their way through to become top performers while maintaining their flexible working hours.
It was found that they managed to pull it off by lining up local clients to reduce the need for travel, not calling attention to the times they skip work to have some family time and covering for their colleagues who are in similar situations.
About a quarter of men were working shorter hours and had revealed their reduced schedules to senior members of the firm.
By contrast, 44% had disclosed to managers they were working fewer hours.
When interviewed, Reid revealed that her study exposed a gender difference in the way men and women coped with their jobs.
“About half the men were happy to be ‘ideal workers’, and about half the women were,” she said.
“What was really different was how they coped. Women involved the firm. They asked to work less hours. The firm would tell them, ‘When you have kids, we’ll make accommodations for you.’ So women just took them at their word. Women did what they were supposed to do and they made less money and got fewer promotions. Men who did that also faced a stigma and got off the promotion track.”