It was 4 p.m. on a recent Friday -- a time of the week when I usually relax and leave the rest of my to-do list to finish over the weekend. But as this recent weekend approached, I kept pushing myself, heart pumping, to get to the bottom of my list of planned tasks for the week.

After years of working on and off throughout most weekends, I was trying a new approach by taking off at least one entire day every weekend this month, away from reporting, writing and all other work. Early on, I hated it. As simple as it seemed, sticking to a time-off plan stressed me out at first. What I didn't see right away was that my little test was forcing me to improve the way I work.

Amid layoffs and burgeoning workloads, it seems, working any time, all the time, has become a habit. A survey of 605 U.S. workers last spring by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half blame 'self-imposed pressure.' Now, new research suggests some have reached the point where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much.
在裁员大潮和工作量剧增的情况下,工作随叫随到、无休无止似乎已经成了习惯。人力资源管理学会(Society for Human Resource Management)去年春季对605名美国工人进行的调查显示,70%的工人会超时工作,周末也要工作;一半以上的人说这是因为自己给自己强加的压力。现在,新的研究表明,一些人已经到了适用于一个看似自相矛盾的原理的地步:要做完更多的工作,我们就得少做点儿。

A groundbreaking four-year study, set for publication in the October issue of Harvard Business Review, seems to confirm that getting away from work can yield unexpected on-the-job benefits. When members of 12 consulting teams at Boston Consulting Group were each required to take a block of 'predictable time off' during every work week, 'we had to practically force some professionals' to get away, says Leslie Perlow, the Harvard Business School leadership professor who headed the study.
《哈佛商业评论》(Harvard Business Review)10月号即将发表一项为期四年的研究,这一具有划时代意义的研究似乎证实了,放下工作能够给工作带来意想不到的好处。负责这项研究的哈佛商学院教授佩罗(Leslie Perlow)说,波士顿咨询公司(Boston Consulting Group)的12个咨询小组的成员被要求每人每周固定休息一段时间,他说,事实上我们必须迫使一些专业人士放下工作。

But the results surprised Harvard researchers and Boston Consulting executives alike. Working together to make sure each consultant got some time off forced teams to communicate better, share more personal information and forge closer relationships. They also had to do a better job at planning ahead and streamlining work, which in some cases resulted in improved client service, based on interviews with clients. Boston Consulting is so pleased with the outcome that the firm is rolling out a similar teaming strategy over the coming year on many new U.S. and some overseas projects, says Grant Freeland, senior partner and managing director of the firm's Boston office. 'We have found real value in this,' he says. 'It really changes how we do our work.'
但这样做的结果令哈佛研究人员和波士顿咨询公司的管理人员都大为惊讶。由于要通力合作,确保每位咨询师都能有时间休息,这就迫使各个小组加强沟通,分享更多个人信息,而且形成了更好的关系。他们还必须更好地进行提前规划,简化工作程序,从对访问客户的结果看,这种情况有时带来客户服务的改善。 波士顿咨询公司高级合伙人兼董事总经理弗里兰德(Grant Freeland)说,公司对这一结果十分满意,未来一年将在许多新的美国和海外项目推行类似的团队合作策略。他说,我们发现了它的实际价值。它真的改变了我们的工作方式。