For many working professionals, there isn’t enough time in the day to complete all business tasks and obligations. The challenge for CEOs, who ultimately carry the full responsibility for the success or failure of their organization, is that they are constrained to the same 24-hour clock as everyone else, despite having a much broader scope of professional responsibility.
A recent study outlined in Harvard Business Review uncovered how key executives handle their time to remain productive and efficient. The researchers, Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria, tracked 27 CEOs over a three-month period.
As part of the study, the executive assistants for the participating CEOs were trained to log how the leaders spent their time, with whom and on what activities. Porter and Nohria used the data to surface some interesting facts and trends.
The CEO Title Comes With Really Long Hours
As the leader of an organization, it’s not surprising that you’ll work more than most of your employees. According to the report, CEOs worked an average of 9.7 hours per weekday and also put in an additional four hours per weekend day, on average.
Even on vacation days, the leaders worked nearly two and half hours per day. In total, they worked an average of 62.5 hours per week, which is over 50% more than a traditional full-time employee logging 40-hour work weeks.
Frontline Employees And Customers Often Struggle For Executive Attention
With the constant stream of meetings, strategy sessions, and other obligations, a leader is likely to neglect some audience, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Surprising to some, the stakeholders who were most neglected were frontline employees and customers.
According to the study, CEOs only spent an average of 6% of their time with rank and file employees. This creates challenges if that executive desires to maintain an accurate gauge of the organization’s problems and culture. Even more alarming, only 3% of their time was spent with customers. This statistic also shocked the study’s participants. This dynamic of few customer interactions creates challenges when executives don’t have a clear view of the customer perspective.
Executives Value Face-to-Face Meetings
Another key observation is that CEOs prioritize face-to-face meetings and avoid defaulting to phone or video conferences, whenever possible. Nearly 61% of their work-time involves in-person interactions because executives recognize the importance of relationship building.
For meetings with constituents who don’t work in the company’s offices, CEOs are not reluctant to exit the office to conduct business. According to the study, more than 50% of their work occurs outside the company’s office, which could include meeting with partners, customers, investors or working from other locations.
They Need Alone Time Like The Rest of Us
One final surprising statistic from the study was how much time they operated in an isolated environment. Porter and Nohria found that the CEOs in the study spent an average of 28% of their work time alone. Considering how many meetings, obligations and, fires they are putting out, it’s a little shocking to find that over a fourth of their work time is alone time getting things done.