Is Working on the Weekend Hurting Your Motivation?

The 9-5 grind is no longer the norm.

Working a non-traditional schedule has become increasingly common (especially with the work-from-home wave brought on by the pandemic). And getting in touch has never been easier. But could this constant connection to our work on weekends and holidays cause us to lose motivation and satisfaction when the work-life balance gets out of whack? New research suggests that this may be the case.

The research out of Cornell University started with students who were studying during a federal holiday as a means to investigate this question. The students were surveyed on their motivation and enjoyment of their work. Some participants were reminded that they were working on a holiday, and others were not reminded that it was a holiday.

The findings:

  • Students who were reminded that they were studying on a holiday reported that their work was 15% less enjoyable.
  • The researchers surveyed full-time employees working on a Monday federal holiday about their work satisfaction. The employees reported that their work was 9% less enjoyable on the holiday than on a regular Monday.
  • People working on a Saturday or “weekend day” had lower work satisfaction scores than those who were working on a Tuesday.

The takeaway: The authors believe that these lower satisfaction scores could be related to several factors. For one, working during periods that you have “mentally encoded” as being off time, such as a holiday or weekend, could suddenly make you feel your work is less enjoyable. Also, working during a period of “collective time off” when friends and family have free time that you could be spending with them could tank your desire to keep at it. How do you feel when you have to work holidays or weekends? And are there ways that you can improve your own work-life balance?

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