The Surprising Reason You're Less Productive Amid COVID, Study Shows

It's not just wearing your pajamas day in and day out that's sapping your productivity, research shows.

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There's no denying that working in your pajamas from bed doesn't always do much for your overall motivation. However, if you're feeling less productive amid the coronavirus pandemic, it may not be new your elastic-waist-only wardrobe or the lack of co-workers around you that are keeping you from getting as much work done as you'd hoped. According to a new University of Georgia study, an increased workload is associated with a reduction in overall productivity.

In the study, published in the August 2020 issue of the Journal of Sports Economics, researchers examined the performance of 1,050 running backs, halfbacks, and fullbacks who began NFL careers between 1970 and 2010 and found that the greater the performance demands on a player, the lower their productivity was the following year. Of course, NFL players' jobs are different from the average office gig, but Steven Salaga, PhD, the study's primary author, said the findings have potential applications off the field, as well.

Portrait of bored young male student or businessman wearing glasses sitting at laptop leaning on arm
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"We're looking at whether employer decision-making, with respect to workload allocation, has the ability to reduce a worker's human capital," Salaga said in a statement. "We found that the more workload a player is assigned by their employer, the more their productivity drops the following year."

Unfortunately, higher workloads have been a surprising side effect of the pandemic. According to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July 2020, the average workday has become 48.5 minutes longer since the pandemic began and involves 12.9 percent more meetings than the average workday did prior to COVID.

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That doesn't mean that employers can't do anything about diminishing employee returns, however. In addition to being mindful of employee workloads, something as simple as giving workers a little extra praise could help mitigate those productivity dips. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, employees who received recognition for their work were more productive and more loyal to their workplaces than those who didn't. In fact, public recognition was even more memorable to employees than salary increases or other financial incentives. And if you want to boost your productivity and overall attitude, check out these Cut These 20 Negative Words from Your Life and Be Instantly Happier.

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