Long Working Hours do not increase your Team Productivity

Solutions to limit the effects of overtime on employee’s productivity in a project organization



By Camille Timmerman

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France




Nowadays, companies are structuring themselves into project-oriented organizations in order to gain a competitive advantage. Employees with specific expertise have to continuously adapt their ways of working while looking for the highest productivity. Consequently, working overtime is becoming a norm in many companies to fit into the project requirement. The paper researches aims to find a solution to help the project manager to limit employee’s overtime while keeping a high productivity. To better understand this phenomenon, we looked at the root causes of working overtime in a business environment. Based on several studies and experimentation we came up with four possible alternatives that could be implemented to solve the issue.

To correctly assess our findings and support our thinking we used different methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis. One solution has been selected and developed here, employees have to have regular breaks and need to disconnect from technologies and work during lunchtime in order to improve their productivity.  In that case, they will not need to work overtime. Leaders of organizations and businesses can use the findings of this study to develop new ways of working and better manage time to overcome the effects of overtime in their team.

Keywords:  Productivity, working hours, overtime, overwork, project-oriented organization, technology, career perspective, health issues, working condition.


Everyone once said that there was not enough time in a day to complete all the tasks they have on their to do-list. We all want to seek a good level of productivity, to get a well-deserved promotion but also to fulfill our responsibility towards loved ones. We put a lot of energy into controlling our behavior to be more efficient in order to adopt a good balance between our professional and private life. This is even truer in a project-oriented-organization “when employees have to hold a number of portfolios of projects because projects are constantly changing, permanent and temporary resources are employed, and cooperations are sometimes organized in virtual teams” (PMI, s.d.)[1]. This often forces employees to work longer than the 8 regular hours and in the worst-case scenario, to work overtime to accomplish the duties. More than ever, permanent contracts or 9 to 5 working hours seems to be the vestige of a bygone era.

Nowadays, this norm of 8 working hours is pushed to its climax. In many projects, overwork has become a standard and sometimes an integral part of the corporate culture.  Working long hours has become something expected and even admired by managers. In most common mind long working hours are synonymous of high productivity, there is a real confusion between working hard and working longer. “New technologies, despite multiple interests, are a new source of insidious stress that is expensive for the human body, but also very expensive for businesses” (Fleming P. , 2018) [2]. The first beliefs about technology were that they released us from certain tasks or made them faster and thereby increased employee productivity. Indeed, many economists in the early twentieth thought it was legitimate to rely on technical progress to free us from work and predicted that advances in technology would reduce the number of hours worked.

Several studies on working habits revealed that working long hours can have a dramatic impact on health. For example, in 2015, a young Japanese employee of 24 years old was found dead after 105 hours of overtime in the same month. Japan is facing a « death by overwork » problem [3].

Moreover, several studies have been conducted by governments on the relationship between working hours and productivity. The challenge of most companies is now to find the right balance between employee’s well-being and highest performance at work.

To understand why so many people are working overtime, we have to go through the main causes of this phenomenon. The mains reasons for failures come from management methods, environment, and measurement.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director paul.gardiner@skema.edu.

How to cite this paper: Timmerman, C. (2019). Long Working Hours do not increase your Team Productivity: Solutions to limit the effects of overtime on employee’s productivity in a project organization, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue III (April).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pmwj80-Apr2019-Timmerman-long-working-hours-do-not-increase-team-productivity.pdf



About the Author

Camille Timmerman

Paris, France




Camille Timmerman is a student in SKEMA Business School. She did the second semester of her first year of master in Skema Suzhou campus and found an internship in Digital Marketing in Shanghai. After almost a year in China, Camille integrated the Master of Science Project & Programme Management and Business Development in the campus of Paris at La Defense. Recently, she finished a 6 months internship at Publicis Sapient in Paris where she was a New Business Project Assistant. In this very dynamic agency, she worked on Agile, Data and Digital Strategy topics. Camille has mild experience in project management and wants to pursue her career on digital business transformation in a consulting company.

Camille lives in Paris, France and can be contacted at camille.timmerman@skema.edu


[1] Gareis, R. (2000). Program management and project portfolio management: new competences of project-oriented organizations.

[2] Peter, Fleming (2018, January 15th). The Guardian: Do you work more than 39 hours a week?

[3] Jeremy, Berke. (2018, March 25th) Business Insider: Japan is facing a « death by overwork » problem.