For a company, whether it is a multinational enterprise with tens of thousands of employees or a small business with only a few “homies”.  The success of a company hinges on the effort of the little guys. Many companies try their best to maximize productivity, with various reinforcement systems and morale-raising activities.

Employees might want to contribute, but “want” is meaningless without the will to act. The empowerment of employees is crucial. Imagine this scene: An employee as slow as a sloth, hands off their work, sneaking a few “phone breaks” in their work time. The boss would easily think that this employee had no intention to do well, questioning the employee’s work ethic or even personality. But there is an alternative explanation: The employee simply lacked the physical and mental powers to work efficiently.

Don’t know if you could relate: An important plan or report. Deadline within a few hours. Mind entered a state of emergency like you were running for your life. Driven by fear. Determination for completion peaked. With all your heart, you started to write… for ten minutes. Oh no. Mind blank. Mobile phone out. Reading through some irrelevant posts like “Top 10 hottest peppers in the world”. It’s obvious that you have no brain power left. Think about it, if your legs are already desperately trembling in fatigue, how could you move a box up a flight of stairs? But somehow there is always energy in reserve for a trip to the pantry. The actions require vastly different levels of energy, not too dissimilar to the difference in mental energy required between “writing a report” and “playing with a mobile phone.”

Modern society steered away from physical labor to mental labor. For employees to have enough brain power during work, the company must help everyone (boss included) to get “real off-hours”, for the brain to get the rest it deserves.

Have you ever thought about who on earth invented off-hours? Actually, off-hours were the very foundation of human civilization.

Natural selection designed the human brain to cope with short-term acute stress, such as running from kaijus or hunting for food. Work nervously during the day and fully rest at night, preparing for the stress cycle to resume tomorrow. An off-day or two every five or six days. An off-week or two every few months. This way, we can escape the merciless claws of natural selection.

The human mind and body are not equipped to cope with continuous work and challenges, from the never-ending text messages to those pesky relationships. It won’t take long until complete exhaustion.

Off-hours are the basis for human survival. However, in the past decade or so, information technology has extended work beyond the office, eating up everyone’s precious rest time and burning our brains.

So dear bosses or supervisors, unless it is urgent (urgent here means urgent, not everything), do not send any more emails or text messages after work. During off-hours, how should you communicate with colleagues? Make good use of the draft box of your email or messaging app (you could message yourself the draft). Only press “send” when office hours begin.

Many managers or bosses may think this proposal is crazy. Wouldn’t this greatly weaken the company’s competitiveness and slow down efficiency? But think about it, let’s say employees are required to continue work after hours, restricting their ability to deal with family affairs. The result? The family affairs will not disappear. At work, employees would secretly deal with family affairs, or replenish their sleep during office hours. It’s common sense to know that if you cannot concentrate on work, your thought train will crash, and mistakes will naturally seep out of this mess. Lack of sleep will also greatly weaken cognitive abilities and emotional management functions.

Therefore, everyone needs to seriously consider the cost of “eternal work hours”. By granting everyone “real off-hours”, we preserve the will and strength of employees to work again.


Supported by the Jebsen Group Charitable Fund

Written by: Dr. William CHUI Wing Ho

Translated by: CHAN Cheuk Long