Tuesday, 23 November 2021

The perfect number of hours to work every day? Research says 5 to increase productivity

Do you dream of a shorter workday? Research suggests that a 5-hour workday may be the way forward to increase staff well-being and productivity. 

So, what is holding companies back from embracing the cut?

A month-long trial took place as part of a TV programme, by the BBC, for a marketing company based in Liverpool to adopt a 6-hour working day. 

The trial was part of embracing the Nordic Style of working. 

In 2016, Swedish care homes adopted a 6-hour workday to improve staff well-being. However, after the trial, there were an array of mixed reviews.

Some of the positives of this trial were that many avoided the morning work traffic by starting later at 9am and then finishing early, allowing for a better work-life balance. 

It worked well for those with a family as it allowed them the flexibility to do things like go to the gym or pick their children up from school. 

However, there were also some downsides. Some people felt more stressed as there weren't enough hours to get things done, and they looked at condensing their workload. 

At the end of the programme, the business settled on a new model where everyone worked two short days and three long ones.

With COVID19 lockdown lifting and many returning to the office, this idea of a shorter compressed workday is making a comeback. 

In the news and parliament, there have been talks of a four-day workweek. However, others argue that the 5-hour days are a tried and tested option that doesn't work.

Research indicates that the maximum that someone can concentrate hard on something is 5 hours. 

Sometimes, the individual can push past that, but 5 hours of solid concentration is the most productive timeframe, so why is this not something that every company has latched onto yet? 

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Many argue that some jobs don't require this intense concentration level and therefore do not apply to this rule. Thus, effectively people can work at a lower concentration level for longer.

The 8-hour workday, while it may not seem it, is a semi-new concept as it was only cemented by Ford about 100 years ago. 

Due to production demands, it meant that staff needed to be working on a 24-hour rota, meaning that hours got longer. 

In turn, productivity increased, but this didn't account for its demands on its workers.  

Returning to more modern times, one business adopted the five-hour working day in 2015. 

Staff worked from 8am – 1pm and had their afternoons free and the company confessed that their turnover increased by 50%. 

Many say that a shorter workday forces creative thinking and how the time is taken to complete specific tasks was taking less time, making workers adopt a work smarter, not more complex technique. But, at the same time, others say that it affects team culture and workplace relations and causes more stress to the individual.

Another downside to the model is that it cannot be implemented everywhere. 

Many companies do not have the budgets or business continuity to have such a high number of staff.

So overall, what do we think? 

Mental health and work-life balance, in many ways, is just as important a productivity. 

Yes, you need your clients/customers to be happy, but you also need your staff to be satisfied. With the introduction of flexitime in many businesses, we feel people should listen to their intuition and work what they want to.

Although it can be demanding as society makes us work long hours sometimes, remember the hard work will pay off, but rests and breaks are needed for health and productivity. 

Written by Jessica Murray.

Let us know in the comments if you would benefit from a 5-hour workday. Is it a good or bad idea in your opinion?


1 comment

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