The work-play divide

I have a friend who dabbles in the Fantasy Stock Exchange- an online tool in which you ‘buy’ stocks and then monitor them in light of their real-life performance. My friend checks his stocks at least three times a day, and his mood can be greatly dictated by their ups and downs.

I have a friend who dabbles in the Fantasy Stock Exchange- an online tool in which you ‘buy’ stocks and then monitor them in light of their real-life performance.

My friend checks his stocks at least three times a day, and his mood can be greatly dictated by their ups and downs.

It’s an interesting thing- he doesn’t actually own any stock of course, but this imaginary stock is real in the sense that its’ movement in reality is accurately tracked.

Anyway because my friend gives me feedback into his stock exchange situation, I’ve found myself picking up patterns. For starters, bad news is almost always more consistent than good news.

A rise in stock value will often be short-lived, but its decline could go on for weeks. And you can often tell in advance what days will be good days on the market. Mondays are almost always bad, but then the market usually starts to pick up on Tuesday.

The good news then frequently peaks on Wednesday before sliding again inexorably to a flat Friday. Obviously this isn’t a statistically sound way of drawing a conclusion, and there are frequent variations to the trend but this is a general trend I’ve noticed over the preceding months.

It makes me wonder about the effect that the day of the week has on workplace productivity.  The ‘Monday blues’ have become something of a cliché- that day of the week where you would rather be elsewhere.

(Infact-and I never thought I’d write this sentence- it is a condition perfectly captured in the pop song ‘Just another manic Monday’).  I don’t know if there are any studies on this, but I think it’s fair to say that this is the day of the week when productivity across the workforce is likely to be at its lowest.

It could be tricky to be at your mental best at the beginning of the workweek, and Monday offers the furthest proximity from the oasis that is Friday (We’ll call it the PTF-Proximity to Friday-Factor).

If we take proximity to Friday as one angle to measure changing productivity, then theoretically productivity will increase steadily until it starts to drop on Thursday and then bottom out on Friday. Presumably the weekly rise and fall of stock values are at least a partial reflection of that, but I’m making the assumption that it is fairly consistent across a wide spectrum of jobs.

While having a Country at optimum productivity throughout the week would obviously be ideal, it is not surprising- and even quite healthy- to have a working culture that reflects other things.

Having the weekend as your touchstone and motivation presumably gives people the kind of target that could make them very productive in the long run. It is mixing business with pleasure, but only in a psychological sense.

It is intriguing to think how such supposedly trivial things might affect economic indicators over the long-run.

So the ‘graph of productivity’ I set out above is a kind of model of rational human nature (Working towards the reward, with the reward here extending beyond just financial remuneration). But what happens if the PTF Factor goes awry? A few days ago I read a report noting that South Korea’s suicide rate has steadily risen in line with their rapid economic growth. Before its runaway success, it had one of the lowest rates of suicide in the industrialized world, but today it has double the rate of the United States.

People work harder, sleep more and socialize much less.  It is a rupture in the Business-pleasure continuum. Workplace productivity and the resulting economic indicators are only one aspect of the human condition. We need much more than that to be happy and fulfilled human beings.

minega_isibo@yahoo.co.uk

Minega Isibo is a lawyer

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