Most people think the more they work the more they will get done. Many people are now working 50, 60, and even 70 hours a week trying to get ahead. People often feel they have to work this much to be more productive. In reality though, they are actually being counterproductive.
According to K. Anders Ericsson, one America’s top experts on the psychology of work, people can only do 4 or 5 hours of productive work per day before their performance starts to flatline and begin to suffer.
Ericsson says, “If you’re pushing people well beyond the time they can really concentrate maximally, you’re very likely to get them to acquire some bad habits. What’s worse, those bad habits could end up spilling into the time people are normally productive”.
Real-World Benefits of Reduced Hours
Conversely, employers who shortened their employees’ work week saw marked improvements in worker productivity and morale. They also had less employee turnover.
For example, the CEO of Treehouse, Ryan Carson, instituted a 32-hour week back in 2006. His company has enjoyed marked improvements in employee morale and productivity ever since. Carson boasts that his company is highly successful and earns millions of dollars every year. His employees also love working there.
Similarly, the web development company, Reusser Design, switched to a four-day work week in 2013. (Assuming the employees worked eight-hour days, that would also equal 32 hours.)
Nate Reusser, the founder of Reusser Design noted, “Even if employees work overtime on Fridays, their performance is much higher. You have no idea how people hustle to finish projects before they go on vacation.”
Benefits for School Children & Government Employees
School children can also benefit from reduced hours. A study published in 2015 allowed Colorado 4th and 5th graders to attend school just four days a week. The researchers found that their math and reading scores were respectively 12 percent and 6 percent higher than those of youngsters who still attended school five days a week.
Ericsson commented, “I think the idea that children will be fully concentrating during all their classes is unreasonable.” That would be especially true of children with learning disabilities that impair their ability to pay attention or concentrate.”
Even just redistributing the hours within a standard 40-hour work week can have benefits. In 2008, John Huntsman, who was then governor of Utah, reorganized the work week so 75 percent of the state’s employees worked ten-hours days, four days a week.
The employees’ morale improved, and they enjoyed the extra day off, at least partly since it meant an extra day without dealing with rush hour traffic. The state also benefitted, for the restructured work week saved money by reducing the costs of powering, cooling and heating government buildings.
It’s about time employers of all types recognize the truth. The 8-hour, 5-day workweek simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Many employers now choose a more flexible schedule. Such a schedule promotes getting lots of work done in little time.
This all may seem like a passing fad to some. However, it really can provide sizable benefits for a company. Workers and managers alike will get lots more done and feel happier. And who doesn’t want to be happier?
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.