When are South Africans most productive?

Anyone who has ever worked a nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday office job will know that, during any given day, some hours will inherently prove to be more fruitful than others, with productivity slumps being bound to occur from time to time. International research, however, suggests that in an 8-hour day, the average worker may be productive for as little as three hours – which is less than a 40% return on time for employees.

A recent South African survey conducted by Magnetic Software – a business intelligence platform designed to enhance efficiencies and profits for marketing agencies – which set out to gain further insight into this topic on a local level, reveals that there are definite times of the day, days of the week, and even months of the year in which South Africans tend to be most productive.

Daniel Marcus, CEO of Magnetic Software, says that – based on 165 survey responses – Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during the first and third quarters of the year appear to be when people in South Africa are most productive. “Between 8h30 and 11h00 is when 67.9% of respondents find they are generally most productive. 20% of respondents find late afternoons to be their most productive time of day, while the midday hours (11h00 – 14h00) prove to generally be the least productive.

A hard day’s work 

“In terms of which days of the week people tend to get the largest portion of work done, Tuesdays proved to be the most productive, followed shortly by Wednesdays. There was a general consensus among respondents that Friday is usually their least productive day, with Mondays and Thursdays appearing to be somewhere in between on the productivity scale,” explains Marcus.

When looking at which months are considered to be most productive, Marcus says the results are consistent with what is to be expected. “The early months of January through March are when respondents say they are at their most productive, which makes sense as most people take time off in December and come back to work feeling energised and full of resolution. July through to September also ranked highly in terms of perceived productivity – likely because as people reach the half-way mark, they realise just how quickly the year is going and how much they still need to get through in order to achieve their annual objectives.”

Marcus says that, in addition to being interesting on a social level, these results offer useful insight into how best to optimise productivity in a workforce. “While today’s employees often work well beyond the standard 8-hour work day – particularly those in a typical agency environment – logging additional hours doesn’t necessarily equate to increased productivity.”

It’s also important to remember that productivity optimisation does range from person to person, Marcus concludes. “Some people are night owls and work best under tight deadlines, while others are at their most productive early in the morning and crack under pressure. Once you’re able to find a schedule that works best for you and your team members, you can start incorporating processes that will make you more efficient.

“Implementing an all-in-one agency management workflow system, for example, will not only allow you to track time quickly and effortlessly from your desktop or smartphone, but will also enable you to instantly check team capacity to spot the gaps and schedule work accordingly.”