I know we’ve been pretty focused on work-life balance lately, but this is the last one for a while, so you better be listening because the call for shorter working weeks is trending, and both employees and employers seem to be behind the idea!
We all dream of being in the office 4 days a week, and being off for another 3 days but yet being paid the same amount. Imagine the weekends we could plan if we had 3 days off work? The question is, however, could it ever really happen? It seems like the idea is trending in both large and smaller companies so we decided to take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of this new workplace trend.
Google co-founder and computer scientist Larry Page has been claiming since 2014, that we should cut down on the standard 40-hour working week, and it seems like major businessmen such as Richard Branson agree with the statement. Branson even argues that a three day working week might be the key to success as he introduced a flexi working scheme for his employees to work from home whenever they please.
“It’s easier to attract top talent when you are open and flexible,” Branson said in a recent blog post. “It’s not effective or productive to force them to behave in a conventional way.”
Of course, this all depends on your job and the hours you have to put towards your projects and goals. For example, entrepreneur and engineer Elon Musk has told the New York Times that he sometimes has to work up to 120 hours a week, which is pretty much double what the standard work time is. But it has been proven that there aren’t actually many upsides to spending more time at the office, and plenty of these studies suggest longer working hours make you not only unhappier, but also less productive.
Which is why both companies and governments around the world have been actively working together trying to experiment with cutting down working hours to see a successful long term result. Sweden for example, has done a handful of experiments with a range of different companies, from start-ups to nursing homes and bigger businesses with a 32-hour work week, by shortening the days over a 5-day period. And Japan has introduced a measure called “shinning Mondays” in which companies can give their employees the opportunity to come into work late one Monday a month.
But the country that has had the most success with shorter working week is New Zealand, with 78% of employees feeling they were able to better manage their work life balance and increase their workload by 24% with a 4-day week instead of a 5-day week.
“If you can have parents spending more time with their children, how is that a bad thing?” asked Andrew Barnes, a New Zealand-based entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded New Zealand’s largest corporate trustee company, Perpetual. The businessman believes the new work model has the potential to profoundly impact society for the better.
Studies also show that Britons tend to work too much for free leading to a variety of significant damages such as depression, anxiety, higher risks of excessive drinking and other work-related issues. In some cases, 44% of the time, employees lost their job due to workload and eventually, more important health issues such as high blood pressure and strokes. This has, according to the Health and Safety Executive, also been affecting the costs of the nation’s health care with an increase in £5 billion pounds a year for work stress related issues.
And this is not all, as an article on The Guardian states that according to the TUC, workers in the UK work 2.1 billion of unpaid hours, resulting in an insane £33 billion pounds of free labour. So let me ask you, would you rather work long hours for free, or try to get more work done in a shorter period of time but yet, knowing you’ll have more time with your family? If the trials show that having less time in the office makes you more productive, I am afraid it’s a no brainer!
Although trials around the world are still being put into action, we strongly believe the evidence already seen from the earlier trials show a significant proof that shorter working weeks can only benefit both employees and employers. We would still love to know what you think however, so let us know in the comments below!
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