Will working less make you more productive? That’s the idea behind “The Future of Work”, a recent study by CareerAddict.com. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 74% of workers believe that 6-hour workdays could lead to higher productivity at work. But do business owners feel the same way?
“Limiting your working hours encourages employees to work smarter, not harder or longer,” suggests Jeremy Harrison, Founder of Hustle Life. “People adjust when they know they have less time to complete a task. They tend to focus more on the job at hand. When I started working from home, I noticed an increase in my productivity as I'm able to complete my task ahead of time.”
Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com believes a 6-hour workday helps to eliminate unnecessary distractions. Aldrich notes the “average worker wastes 20 percent of their day on Facebook alone. Coupled with meetings and other time-wasters, working unproductively costs businesses more than $37 billion a year. As productivity increases, more work gets completed, and your business makes more money.”
Chris Kaiser, CEO with Click A Tree incorporates this mindset into how he runs his business, giving his team targets. Once they achieve the desired results, they can stop work and enjoy quality time with their family. Kaiser says, “Openly telling them that they can knock off when their job is done gets them ultra focused and productive, and most of the time they are done after 5 hours. So why not allow them to recharge their batteries? It makes them a lot happier, healthier, more loyal and they come back even more motivated the next day.”
“I absolutely agree that working more hours does not lead to more productivity. Hours worked vs output are not correlated,” said Ruggero Loda, Founder of Running Shoes Guru. Loda lives in the Netherlands, where the standard workweek is four days, averaging about 29 hours per week, the lowest of any industrialized nation per the OECD. He notes, “Dutch laws encourage work-life balance and protect part-time employees. All workers are entitled to paid vacation, paternity, and maternity leave. There was also a law passed in 2000 which gives workers the right to switch to part-time while keeping their benefits and pay.”
But does a shorter work-week help or hurt productivity? Loda said it helps. “Despite having the shortest workweek, the Netherlands is also one of the most productive in the world,” added Loda. “KPMG, a top consulting firm, releases an annual report each year. The KPMG report compares the productivity potential of 181 countries based on statistical data. The Netherlands has consistently been in the top 10. The work-life balance was one reason I wanted to move here. The U.S. model of 40 hours a week created from the Great Depression Era should be reconsidered to adapt to modern lifestyles. Burnout is very real.”
“Working shorter work days will allow people to have more time to re-energize and focus on other hobbies or passions that make them feel fulfilled,” said Hilary Bird. The statistic from the Career Addict study is one reason Bird left the 9-5 corporate world. She was tired of being expected to be at max productivity levels for forty hours a week. Bird explains, “All humans are motivated to be productive in different ways, so forcing an eight-hour work day on everyone is, to me, unrealistic and a cookie-cutter approach to a much more complex situation. There's a reason the quote, ‘the more time you have, the less you do exists’ because people are natural procrastinators! If they have less time to get their work done, they'll actually get it done faster.”
Harrison notes that changing how we work has the benefit of more free time to do other things to balance one’s lifestyle. He stated, “A well-balanced lifestyle is tantamount to excellent job satisfaction and lower stress level.” With a 6-hour work day, Aldrich points out that employees now have 10 hours more in their personal lives. “Energy levels will increase, and employees won’t see their job as such a slog. Work is work, yes, but life is too short to hate the majority of our week,” said Aldrich.
Can this work for people who are not yet on board with the idea of a 6-hour workday? Will Ward, CEO of Assistive Listening HQ decided to test the CareerAddict findings in his own schedule. “I strictly work for 8 hours a day because I like to keep a good work-life balance,” explains Ward. “My daily tasks include checking emails, conducting meetings, checking sales, etc. For a 6-hour day, I set out to do the same tasks and surprisingly, I finished everything! This means I get 2 extra hours everyday which I can focus on other aspects like reading a book or taking a course. I am grateful for this study as it has made me more productive.” When considering the reasons, Ward believes it was purely psychological for him. “In the 6-hour day, I was more focused and did not spend even five minutes on anything other than work. The added knowledge that I only have six hours might have been the reason for the laser-focus I experienced.”
Tina Arnoldi, MA is a marketing consultant and freelance writer in Charleston SC. Learn more about her and connect at TinaArnoldi.com