It’s almost impossible to be productive for a full eight hours of a work day. Therefore, more and more companies and governments are experimenting with shorter working hours and shorter work weeks. What is the optimal work week according to science?
“Research shows that people can focus for up to five hours a day,” said Alex Pang, founder of the consulting firm Strategy & Rest. wired. “Of course there are days when something can be done in those other three hours. But most of us are really productive for up to five hours a day.”
Don’t do anything in boss time
A British study from 2019 found that employees are really productive for only three hours a day. The rest of the work day consists of browsing social media, talking to colleagues, sipping coffee, reading the news, and taking a break. More than sixty percent of work time is spent “unproductive”.
Executives seem unable to keep their team (and themselves) going. So a five-hour workday may be more meaningful than a four-day workweek. This ensures a better work-life balance and mental health.
Less work, more productivity
Thus, less work can lead to higher productivity. This suspicion is confirmed by research by Rita Fontina, associate professor at Henley Business School. Shorter work days improve quality of life, increase employee productivity, and improve the company’s financial performance.
But there are also drawbacks to reducing the working day. “Employees may feel extra pressure to get their tasks done on time,” Fontina says. “So my research shows that you need to give them flexibility to spend extra time on tasks if needed.”
number short talk Lake
CEO Lasse Rheingans of German consultancy Digital Enabler talks about his company’s move to five hours a day in 2017: “We realize we’re losing out on the relationship level. It affects the culture of loyalty and team if you don’t have time for the small talk about the coffee machine.”
Due to intense work from home due to the pandemic, Rheingans have now ditched the five-hour workday and given employees extra freedom to organize the day themselves. There are only two rules: “No appointments are allowed between 12 noon and 2 pm and that is realizing and healthy. I want people to work less, not more. In the long run, this is much better. I want people to work according to their strength.”
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