The Monday Worker

Sunday nights can be scary before the work week begins, but Monday and Tuesday, especially in the morning, are when employees are most productive, suggests new research from staffing firm Accountemps.

More than half of workers surveyed said their productivity peaks at the beginning of the week, with Monday (29%) edging out Tuesday (27%) by two points. After Hump Day (20%), worker productivity dips: 13% of employees do their best work on Thursdays, followed by 11% on Fridays.

Many professionals said they accomplish more work at the start of the day: 44% are most productive in the early morning and 31% in late morning, compared to 2% who like to burn the midnight oil. It’s probably best to avoid scheduling meetings at noon: only 2% of workers surveyed said they get the most work done at lunchtime. 

For peak productivity, where is as important as when to work, but employees are divided:

  • Those ages 55 and older have the strongest preference for working in an office, with nearly half (45%) reporting they work best in a private office with a closed door, according to the survey.
  • Meanwhile, working in an open office (38%) was the top response among 18- to 34-year-olds.
  • Telecommuting was a close second choice for younger workers, at 36%, compared to 26% of professionals ages 35-54 and 17% of employees 55 and up.

“Employers can play to the unique strengths of their team by knowing when and how they’re most productive,” said Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half. “If you can provide access to their preferred workspaces or bring in temporary professionals to help staff reach peak productivity, do it. What matters most for the bottom line is the work employees get done — not where and when.”

Employees were also asked about the single biggest distraction that impacts their productivity during the workday. Coworkers who are too chatty and social topped the list (32%), followed by office noise (22%), unnecessary conference calls and meetings (20%), cell phone use (15%), and unnecessary emails (11%).  

Steinitz added that workers should hold themselves accountable for their own productivity and offered suggestions for minimizing disruptions: “Employees should focus on important assignments when they’re most alert and energized, and if necessary, consider posting a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at their desk or switching team chat status to ‘Busy.’ Finding ways to shut out distractions can help maximize productivity, no matter the day, time or place.”

Additional Findings 

The survey revealed the following differences by market:

  • While workers, on average, ranked Monday as their most productive workday, Tuesday came in first across 13 markets and tied for the top spot in Denver and Houston.
  • Nashvillians are the most likely to have productive Fridays, at 21%.
  • In Miami (35%) and Chicago (26%), office noise is the top productivity disruptor.
  • Workers in San Francisco are almost equally distracted by their cell phones (25%) as they are by chatty colleagues (26%).
  • Los Angeles professionals report a near-even split for preferred workspaces: 24% for open office, 31% for private office, 22% for working from home and 22% for working from an offsite location.

Find out more at roberthalf.com/accountemps.

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