The Critical Mistake Causing Employees to Work After Hours

2 min readApr 6, 2022


Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

The news: Microsoft researchers studying Teams usage released a report that found more people are logging on after typical work hours to get things done.

What they’re saying: “Traditionally, knowledge workers had two productivity peaks in their workday: before lunch and after lunch. But when the pandemic sent so many people into work-from-home mode, a third peak emerged for some in the hours before bedtime. Microsoft researchers have begun referring to this phenomenon as a ‘triple peak day.’”

  • According to the data, the average Microsoft Teams user sends 42 percent more chats per person after hours than prior to the pandemic.
  • About 30 percent of Microsoft employees had an evening spike in work, as measured in keyboard usage.

Why is this happening? Too many damn meetings! When the white collar workforce started working from home full time, companies stumbled as they adapted to the “new normal.” There was a desperate need for many leaders to over-communicate. Perhaps some companies held too many meetings pre COVID and the shift to remote work exacerbated the issue. Whatever the reason, most businesses compensated for the remote work shift by filling people’s calendars with an endless number of meetings.

Solution: Trust your employees and the process. Ditto pulled ourselves out of this pit when we canceled all our regular internal meetings and reserved Thursday for client meetings. This freed up my staff to actually do their work during the day.

Go Deeper. Understanding how employees work. Everybody’s performance rhythms are different. Some people excel in the morning, others in the afternoon, and some at night. By canceling meetings and prioritizing work, you are letting employees do their best work when they are at their best.

  • Tasks can be split between low demand — reading and writing emails, arranging meetings, sending an agenda — and high demand — creating a strategy document, writing pitches, drafting a press release. The latter should be done during peak performance times.
  • We follow this advice from David Allen, who wrote in his famous time management book, Getting Things Done: “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined.”
  • Use your calendar as a productivity tool with timeboxing. Dedicate a block of time to be spent on a certain task. This way, people can proactively decide how much time they’ll spend on it and when.

Work time: People can avoid after-hours work by being efficient throughout the day (the tips above will help), but companies must take measures to allow their employees to get things done. Canceling most of the useless meetings people are subjected to will go a long way toward helping people achieve a good balance and eliminate the need for a “triple peak day.”