Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of staffing firm Accountemps. The survey of Canadian office workers explored a number of aspects of workplace productivity, including preferred work environment, best times of day and biggest threats to concentration.
Recent survey also found that overly chatty colleagues are the number 1 source of distraction.
Get set to cross those tasks off your to-do list: Tuesday is the most productive day of the week.
A new survey conducted on behalf of staffing firm Accountemps suggests that 35 per cent of survey respondents say their productivity peaks on Tuesday.
And despite its reputation for bringing a bumpy re-entry from the weekend, Monday came second in terms of productivity, with 25 per cent of participants citing it as the day they get the most done.
“What it showed us was that most of the productivity happens at the beginning of the week,” said Mike Shekhtman, regional vice-president for the B.C. division of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps.
Wednesdays got top billing from 18 per cent, followed by Thursdays at 12 per cent and Friday at 10 per cent.
The results makes sense given that employees start the week refreshed from the weekend, said Shekhtman, who is based in Vancouver.
“They have the weekend to plan a little bit in terms of what Monday and Tuesday is going to look like,” he said.
If they’re working off a list, they’ll tackle those tasks so the second half of the week doesn’t get overwhelming, he said.
“On the Friday they’re starting to think about the weekend, and they’re almost checking out. It’s hard to maintain that focus.”
Early morning is best
The survey also looked at some other elements of worker productivity.
The majority of respondents reported that they do their best work at the start of the day, with 41 per cent preferring early morning and 31 per cent late morning.
By contrast, just 14 per cent find their best focus early afternoon, followed by nine per cent who said late afternoon was best.
Toronto–based productivity expert Clare Kumar said people can use these insights about themselves when they design their workdays.
“Perhaps 2:30 in the afternoon, when our circadian rhythm is taking us for a dive, is not the time to schedule your most quiet, creative work,” she said. “You might just be falling asleep at that point.”
The survey found that just three per cent said they were true night owls, preferring to get work done after hours or late at night. Two per cent said they were at their best working over lunch.
The online survey was conducted in April by Maru/Blue using 400 randomly selected full and part-time Canadian office workers.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The results were weighted by age, gender and region.
‘Quiet, please’ on Tuesday
When it comes to factors that impact people’s productivity, overly chatty colleagues were the No. 1 culprit for 28 per cent of respondents, followed by office noise and unnecessary conference calls, which tied for second with 23 per cent each.
Another 20 per cent of respondents pointed to unnecessary emails. Seven per cent identified using a cellphone for calls, texting and social media is their biggest productivity challenge.
Workspace configuration also has a big impact on productivity. While 36 per cent of respondents said they prefer an open office with co-workers, 44 per cent said they do their best work in a private office with a door. Another 19 per cent do their best from home and four per cent prefer another offsite location.
That this means two out of three people would rather not be in an open-concept office, Kumar noted.
“It’s the most common office environment, but it’s sabotaging the productivity of two thirds of the workforce.”
Mary Luz Mejia counts herself among those. When she’s got a lot on her plate in her content marketing role for grocery chain Sobeys, she’ll spend a quiet day working from home.
“I work in a cubicle environment, so you do get conversations happening around you that you end up kind of listening in to, whether you want to or not,” she said. “Or people just stop by to vent, or ask you about a project, or to see how you’re doing, which is usually not a problem.
“But if you’re deep in the weeds and working toward a deadline, all of those small and usually very manageable inconveniences can become really annoying and distracting very quickly.”
We need quieter work environments and then we need a culture that supports it.- Clare Kumar, productivity expert
It helps to understand our own work styles, said Kumar. “But we need our managers and office managers to meet us with the question, ‘What do you need to succeed?’ And help us be able to construct the environment where we are most able to deliver our best.”
She noted that the intention behind the open office — lots of collaboration, easy access to managers with open-door policies — was a good one.
Some companies combat the challenges of an open-office environment by establishing a period of quiet time during the day, said Kumar. “We need quieter work environments and then we need a culture that supports it.”