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What’s The Optimal Number Of Work Hours Per Day?

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Three years ago, people thought I was a fool for saying that almost every white-collar professional will very soon be working from their home. If I had added that people can be more productive while working remotely as being in the office setting, I would have been met with lots of mocking derision. You wouldn’t believe it if someone told you that the new video technologies would perfectly connect remote employees with their bosses and co-workers so flawlessly that they would use it too many times that it would get tiring.

2020 demystified the myth of workers having to trek to the office every day. This is the best time for us to also confront other work taboos. The post-pandemic work future should include 4 or 5 workdays, 4-day workweeks as well as staggered schedules where individuals come and go depending on the lifestyle needs.

In different countries across the globe, full-time employees are required to work about 40 hours per week (about 8 hours each day) from Monday to Friday.

However, there are some countries with short work weeks.

For example, in a country such as Belgium, people work for about 38 hours per week, which is 7.7 hours every day from Monday to Friday. On the other hand, in Norway, there are approximately 37.5 hours per week.

Yet some companies across the globe are considering shortening the workweeks to determine how they will affect workers’ productivity as well as their well-being.

For instance, an organization in New Zealand reduced to 4-day working days per week (about 32 hours) back in 2018. The results were positive to the extent that they considered permanently switching to that model.

Nonetheless, despite the notion that these experiments seem successful, there is very little research that has looked into the number of hours of paid work every week and how it will be beneficial to the worker’s mental health.

5-Hour Workday

Leave alone covid-19, even before the pandemic, let’s be honest about the office. A colleague arrives at about 9:30 am with another lame excuse. With a little gossip, bathroom breaks, and a short trip to the McDonalds, the guy only starts working at about 10:15 am. This is one hour later; he would be asking where his friends would be going for lunch. This continues all day and this is what happens with millions of other employees across the globe.

A lot of time is usually wasted at the office. Essentially, it’s considered normal for departments to hold regular meetings, where people get into a conference room for at least 2 hours and nothing solid gets done. Moreover, they won’t be finished just yet because there will be some post-meeting and a summary of what happened during the last meeting.

Here is a great option: companies should consider offering a 5-hour workday. While it doesn’t have to be all workers, it’s only for those that are interested. The interested workers should arrive to work on time, work efficiently with no Internet shopping, and searchers that are completely dedicated to working. If you can meet the set deadlines and complete your projects, you can be out by about 2:00 pm.

However, the past implementations of this idea were met with some mixed results. For example, Digital Enabler, a small German-based enterprise that develops eCommerce platforms, apps, and websites, tried a short workday. Lasse Rheingans, The CEO, decided to change things up and executed a 5-hour workday. The hypothesis was that if a worker can diligently work with no distractions, they could comfortably finish their daily tasks in 5 hours.

As with all the other good things in life, there was a sacrifice. Idle chitchat wasn’t allowed, social media wasn’t allowed and phones were kept away. Lasse found that his workers would be more productive and motivated to start working at 8:00 am and get off by 1:00 pm. This will provide the team with enough time to rest after work, get a life and get to work the following day well refreshed. The CEO claimed that workers would work diligently and their clients would be happier.

Nonetheless, the implementation had a few challenges. The workers stated that there was more pressure to get their usual tasks completed in lesser time. Furthermore, it was hard for them not to be in a position to contact friends or family throughout the day.

Two of Lasses’ workers left the job with the CEO attributing this to the short hours. Lasse said with no camaraderie and daily bunter, the workers felt like there was no corporate culture.

Tower Paddle Boards; the company that Lasse emulated had previously offered the staff a 5-hour workday. Tower Paddle Boards, the CEO of Stephan Aarstol, authored the post for “Thrive Global” extolling the benefits of a short workday. The fact that you are at the work desk 8 hours per day doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be productive all day. Even the best workers perhaps only effectively work for 2 or 3 hours of actual work. The 5-hour day is more about proper management of human energy by working over short periods.

4-Day Workweek

Several companies and countries have been considering implementing a 4-day workweek. In Japan, Microsoft experimented with the short workweek program. The company gave 2,300 workers the chance to choose a variety of work styles based on the circumstances of life and work. The ultimate goal was to see whether they would correspond with increased morale and productivity when working hours are reduced.

Results of the experiment were positive, showing that workers were 40% more productive and happier. To be honest, some workers might have tried to make the projects successful so that the company could permanently shift to a 4-day workweek.

By offering shortened workweeks, abbreviated workdays, and remote work, this might change the entire society. Employees will become relaxed. They will have great control and say over their lives.

References

Flexible working. (n.d.). BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c1m9v4r6983t/flexible-working

Taylor, C. (n.d.). These CEOs swear by a five-hour working day — even though it made employees quit. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/11/these-ceos-swear-by-a-five-hour-working-day.html

It’s time to end 9-5 office hours: The business case for the five-hour workday | Alex Soojung-Kim pang. (2020, March 11). the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/10/five-hour-workday-shorter-book

This CEO says a 5-hour workday saved his Mark Cuban-backed paddle-board startup but ultimately ‘broke’ its company culture. (2021, June 5). BI Africa. https://africa.businessinsider.com/strategy/this-ceo-says-a-5-hour-workday-saved-his-mark-cuban-backed-paddle-board-startup-but/27esld7

 

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