construction team on site

Work Less and Do More

05/15/24

Many construction owners and managers complain about working too many hours. At a recent construction industry convention, the attendees were surveyed about their work/life habits. How do you compare?

Typical work week for construction business owner:

  • 15 percent work forty hours or less per week
  • 52 percent work up to 60 hours per week
  • 33 percent work over 60 hours per week

Unfortunately, the forty-hour work week isn’t the norm in business today The average Fortune 500 company executive works between 50 and 60 hours per week.  Construction business owners appear to work about the same amount of time as their peers in the corporate world. But construction company owners and managers come from a culture of 40 hours pay for 40 hours work, plus overtime. As they move into management, many expect to be paid more for putting in their forty hours, while working less than their peers in other industries.

Do you take work home with you?

Many owners who are building a construction business arrive at the office or jobsite at 6:00 am and don’t get home until around 6:00 pm. They take work home every night, such as plans to review, projects to bid, invoices for approval, or subcontracts to prepare. On weekends, they often work between four to eight hours as well. The time pressures of starting and growing a business never seem to end. How do you compare to other contractors?

Average take-home work per week

  • 40 percent never take work home
  • 30 percent take home 10 hours of work
  • 30 percent take home 15 hours of work

Many owners become used to doing certain tasks at home like take-offs and estimating. When work hits their desk at the office, they may put it into three piles: “Do It Now,” “Do It Later,” and “Take This Home.” They find that they waste time doing the less important things at work and end up taking home the important things. They think it may be easier to work at home, close the door, and dig into their work uninterrupted. But then they find they are often tired and not as efficient late at night.

It is important to realize that the important work should be done at the office during normal working hours. To make that happen, you need to rearrange your daily priorities and get focused. If your top priority is keeping the pipeline full of new work, then you need to learn to stay on task, shut your door, and not take calls when you are working on a bid. To accomplish this, you have to delegate and trust others with the less important tasks and decisions. This will reduce your take-home work to almost never.

Another way to be more efficient is to rearrange your schedule. Some owners spend early mornings at their home office working on “important” tasks. They then go into the office mid-morning, ready to meet with staff and handle the everyday requirements and tasks required to run their business. This schedule works for some owners, and allows them to go home at a reasonable hour, without taking additional work home.

Time off for good behavior

Most of you dream of taking vacation time as a reward for being a business owner. This may have seemed impossible while you were building your business because you did not trust your people to make good decisions. Once you realize you are not as important or as smart as you think you are, and that you have great people, you will also realize that they do not need to rely on you to make all the “big” decisions. Try and experiment and take a one-week vacation without calling the office. Upon your return, you may discover that your managers have actually done a better job than you would have if you had stayed home. When you look at the situation with your eyes open, you will realize that your management style is the real problem. Learn to delegate and let go of as much as possible.

The survey of construction company owners and managers shows that only thirty percent take less than two weeks off a year. They must think they are too important to leave. Seventy percent realize time off is good for their business and their personal life. How do you compare?

Vacation days per year

  • 15 percent take zero to five days
  • 15 percent take six to 10 days
  • 35 percent take 11 to 15 days
  • 25 percent take 16 to 20 days
  • 10 percent take over 20 days

When you have been in business for a while, you will realize the value of time off. If you work too much, you will make mistakes, tend to micro-manage, make less money, and miss great opportunities. Now, when you head home for the weekend or off on a vacation, keep two purposes in mind. First, spend time on family, faith, friends, fitness, or fun. Second, work on improving your business by reading business books or articles on topics you need to work on. You will find that when you come back to the office, your mind has been re- focused on solving problems or seeking opportunities, you are filled with new ideas, and you are refreshed and excited about the future. How do you compare?

Business - Commercial Construction Industry

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This article contains general information only. Sunflower Bank is not, by means of this article, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, before making any decisions related to these matters, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.