The Cost of Working Overtime


A successful business depends on its ability to be efficient. While maximum results in a short time might be the goal of most companies, many are doing the opposite with their overtime culture.

“You are paying extra for the time when people tend to make more mistakes and have fewer good ideas,” says Yoshie Komuro, CEO of the Tokyo consulting firm Work Life Balance Co. Ltd., who recently spoke on the subject a TED conference. “The more time they spend at work, the worse their results become.”

Komuro’s native country, Japan, has the second-largest ratio (in the world!) of people working more than 49 hours a week, according to the International Labor Organization. Komuro suggests this could be a factor in Japan’s years-long lagging productivity.

Whether or not these are actually correlated, Komuro is right about one thing: poor results, over time, can cost you your business.

How it happens

We’ve known for years that our minds need downtime in between focused work. But add the 24/7 stimulation of smartphone technology and, psychiatrist and author Edward M. Hallowell says, we overload the brain’s circuits, which causes smart people to under-perform at work.

This frequently happens within the standard eight-hour workday. Take that information overload and stretch it out over 10 or 15 hours of overtime at the office, and you lose productivity quickly.

Serendipity Labs

We built our business on the understanding that modern workers need a modern workplace — an environment that promotes efficiency.

To us, that’s an ergonomic workstation, lots of sunlight, and common areas where workers can unplug with or without laptops. There are events for networking and socializing, and there are workshops for learning new skills, as we understand that working well isn’t all about output; inspired work also requires input.

We understand that extra hours don’t equate to better work, so we conceived a coworking space where people want to work, where they feel creative and productive when they walk in the door, and where they maximize the time they have in the office.


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