5-hour a Day to 4-Days Working Week! Does Working Fewer Hours Increase Productivity? Here's What Studies Reveal
Working less increases productivity. (Photo Credits: Caio_triana/Pixabay)

Have you ever found yourself staring at the wrist watch and counting the hours left to complete your eight-hour shift before you finally can scream ‘freedom’? I guess we all have been there and specially Monday mornings. Just the thought of working eight-hours a day, five to six (sometimes seven) days a week, is exhausting. But several studies have revealed that working lesser hours (only five hours) increases an individual’s productivity. One such experiment was conducted by Jonathan Elliot, boss at a financial advice firm in Australia. Last year, after his wife began treatment for cancer, he started working part-time and realised that he got more work done in five hours than his previous eight. He then began the trial of a five-hour day in his firm with no cut in their pay.

This experiment has been life-changing for the firm and ever since they have stuck to the five-hour policy. Sick days have plunged, talented recruits have been hired and their clients do not mind waiting a few hours to see an advisor. Hour-long meetings have also been ditched at the firm. The firm’s bottom line seems unaffected. Studies in the past have also revealed that working lesser hours can increase the productivity and satisfaction among employees. In countries like US and developing countries like India, people work for at least 40-45 hours a week. While there are other countries where despite less working hours their GDP is more than India. Many European countries like Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Denmark work 30-hours a week and four-days a week.

Does working extra or longer hours makes us more valuable to the respective company or is it just making us more tired? Most MNC’s are of the mindset longer working hours is equivalent to increased productivity of the company. In turn it is increased employee exhaustion. Work hours do just include the time we spent in office, but it is also the travel and the traffic of the metro cities that elongate the working hours. Working too much can lead to several issues and thus many companies, in India and abroad, are trying to change their approach by adopting the method of working lesser hours.

Why You Should Work Less Hours

Working too much can lead to health issues: Longer working hours decreases physical health. researcher in a Finnish Institute found that are there associations linked between being overworked and dealing with impaired sleep and depressive symptoms. When we’re overworked, we sleep less, eat unhealthy and even skip workouts that lead to a whole host of health issues. Employees call in sick more often and many even quit out of frustration.

Working longer hours decreases efficiency: Many companies are stringent about their policies that an employee will have to complete eight hours before stepping out of the office. What they fail to comprehend is, are the employees delivering the quality and quantity of work allocated to them? For example, a task that might take up to two hours, the employee will take eight hours to complete it because he is expected to work for those eight hours. Employees also tend to make more mistakes as they are overworked and that hinders the focus of an individual; can also lead to emotional outbursts at office. Parkinson’s Law states, ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. Couldn’t agree more.

Mr. Elliot was influenced by a book by a US entrepreneur, Stephan Aarstol, who introduced five-hour days at his San Diego paddle board company in 2015. Although, what seems to be a cool idea to work only five-hours a day, it might not be practical for all fields, such as in Journalism where we are bound to report news day in and day out any time of the day. But companies can work towards better policies where employee satisfaction and flexibility should be taken care by the employers. Well, since it is only the start of the week, we would like to wish you a Happy Working Monday.