Not that long ago, if you’d told a company leader that their organization would be better off with employees working six hours a day instead of the traditional eight, they would have scoffed. Remote work, team building, company culture? How’s that going to help get the job done?
Things have certainly changed. Modern technology has opened the doors to remote work, thus changing the workplace and enabling more possibilities than ever for outsourcing. Flexible working hours are widely embraced by modern startups, and the concept is rapidly expanding. Company leaders are questioning the traditional nine-to-five set-up in an effort to improve workplace productivity and the efficacy of daily operations. Let’s take a look at how shortening the work schedule can benefit your business and spur growth.
As an employee, you accept the daily eight-hour grind as a fact of life. In fact, eight hours is the minimum, and research points to some very interesting stats regarding the US workforce:
- 42% of US adults work 40 hours per week
- 40% work 50 hours or more weekly
- 18% work more than 60 hours
We’re all too familiar with the corporate culture of long working hours, late nights at the office, and the notion of “proving yourself” through the grind.
But long work doesn’t equate to quality work. As we can see from the source above, research has shown that the technical 8 hours of work are spent doing far less actual work – only about 3 hours per day, with the rest of the time spent dealing with interruptions, trying to return to work after being interrupted, generally procrastinating and, best of all – searching for a new job.
None of this is surprising. It’s the 8-hour mentality, where waiting for the clock to strike 5 or whenever it’s time to go home, takes up much of the day. Working more than 40 hours per week, which is, unfortunately, not uncommon in today’s workplace, ends up being counterproductive and extremely unsustainable. Employees simply burn out and become unproductive.
Work-life balance plays a vital role here. With the workday cut down, employees will have more time not only for their families and social life, but also for taking up hobbies, which is proven to be a great productivity booster. Another thing people will have more time for with a couple of hours chipped off the work schedule? Sleep. That’s right.
Happier and better-rested employees are more productive employees, no question. The 6-hour workday can result in more effective work hours than the traditional 8-hour schedule.
Reducing absentee rates
A two-year experiment conducted in a Swedish care home is some of the most reliable empirical proof we have on this topic. The experiment is simple – the nurses’ work schedule was cut to a six-hour workday, resulting in improved worker health and reduced absentee rates.
The general idea behind this non-traditional set-up is to avoid workforce burnout and to essentially prevent health issues before they happen. This accounts both for physical and mental health, the latter being fundamental to the previous point we’ve talked about. Considering that worker absenteeism costs billions of dollars in salary expenses every year, this is a very important point to consider as part of your growth strategy.
Less stress, more creativity, loyalty, and engagement
The fundamental concept behind reducing working hours is not just to utilize the workday more effectively. The entire company culture changes when you give employees flexibility and ensure that work is not “showing up and being present until it’s time to clock-out”. It’s a whole different atmosphere. Less time is wasted on the mundane and people will be more motivated to produce good work, be efficient, and commit to the organization.
With happier, healthier, less absent employees, your enterprise is able to focus entirely on what matters. You’re not only fostering a positive work attitude, but also encouraging personal responsibility among employees. With a work culture such as this one, you’ll be opening the doors to creative thinking and giving wing to your team’s innovative side. That kind of a team, where everyone is working together towards a bigger goal, is the cornerstone of your growth strategy.
Recruiting top talent
How do you get the best people on your team? Well, you may not be able to afford a more competitive salary, but you can make up for that with shorter hours or a flexible work schedule. The latter is increasingly important, as modern generations of young professionals have somewhat different aspirations from their parents. Many talented and highly qualified employees are no longer willing to compromise their work-life balance for a higher salary. Offering shorter working hours can put you at a significant advantage when it comes to finding the right people to help grow your company.
The bottom line
Now, the Swedish experiment we’ve mentioned above proved to be costly to the organization as the care home needed to take on more employees to cover shifts. But, for an enterprise that doesn’t need to be working 24/7, shorter working hours can result in significantly lower costs. Improved productivity and reduced absenteeism show obvious results in this aspect. But the other points we’ve listed all paint the bigger picture of your company’s journey, by helping foster a culture of innovation and strengthening the foundations for the growth ahead.