CEO says UK will never compare to Asia's 100-hour week - do we even want to?

The UK has long been viewed as a leading business hub on the world stage. Unlike many places around the globe, Britain is a multi-cultural melting pot, with this diversity contributing greatly to its ability to churn out successful, high growth businesses. Despite this, many entrepreneurs and political figures have come down on the business industry in the UK, saying that bosses aren’t doing enough to alleviate dwindling productivity – productivity has halved since the global financial crisis in 2008...
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
CEO says UK will never compare to Asia's 100-hour week - do we even want to?
In Japan, it's not uncommon for staff to stay late and only finish work once their manager has

The UK has long been viewed as a leading business hub on the world stage. Unlike many places around the globe, Britain is a multi-cultural melting pot, with this diversity contributing greatly to its ability to churn out successful, high growth businesses.

Despite this, many entrepreneurs and political figures have come down on the business industry in the UK, saying that bosses aren’t doing enough to alleviate dwindling productivity – productivity has halved since the global financial crisis in 2008.

At the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Iana Dimitrova, CEO of London-based fintech OpenPayd, criticised the low productivity levels in the UK and compared Britain’s 40-hour average long working week to that seen in Asia. She said: "Productivity levels in the UK since the economic crisis have actually been really, really slow. (Asia) are working 100 hours a week, and we struggle to cope with the almost four-day work week in the UK."

These comments give an interesting comparison to the work ethics seen in the UK compared with the attitudes seen overseas. There is a long list of countries that encourage working overtime and have relentless workplace cultures – but is this something we should be celebrating here?

More hours don’t always mean better work

Essentially, Dimitrova is suggesting that the productivity issue in the UK wouldn’t be as bad if people worked longer days. However, a 100-hour work week equates to a 20-hour workday. That’s like working from 8am to 4am the following day – I can’t imagine this would be good for any business, especially from a productivity perspective.

This sentiment is echoed by Alan Price, the CEO of consulting firm BrightHR. He says: "As a business owner, Dimitrova will be focused on increasing productivity and profits. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that working extended hours may actually have an adverse effect on productivity.

“We need to remember too that the UK’s legal landscape doesn't permit such excessive working hours. Even if an employee signs the 48-hour opt-out, they cannot opt out of rest breaks. Issues around pay could also arise, should an employee’s average pay for their total hours worked fall below National Minimum Wage. And for those employees who are working parents, the costs for childcare would skyrocket if they were expected to double their working hours.”

We should be protecting our right to ‘turn off’ from work, ensuring we keep time for things important to us. And we need to look into all sorts of initiatives, such as flexible and hybrid working, and developments for remote working to facilitate that

Katy Thorpe | Global People Director at Kinly

Moreover, devoting your life to your job, with little time for needed rest, can cause burnout and serious mental health issues. Even though long work hours might seem to lead to an increase in quality work, the reality is that humans can only work so hard, and working so long can lead to illness-related absences.

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