Does a Shorter Work Week Spike Up Productivity?

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The first and most important step is to establish a culture that embraces data-driven thinking within your organization. (Image: via pexels / CC0 1.0)

A compressed workweek essentially plays along with the basic rule of the standard 40-hour week. It’s just that the hours are distributed across weekdays to suit your needs. For instance, you have the 4/10 model where employees work for 10 hours from Monday to Thursday and take Friday off.

The hours can be customized for employees to facilitate their personal schedules in such scenarios, which is a win-win situation for both employees and employers. That being said, there is a silent concurrence within the corporate community that the typical workweek can be much more than 40 hours.

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According to a study done by Ohio University: “Around 40 percent of adults in the U.S. work upwards of 50 hours a week, and more than 18 percent adults work more than 60 hours a week.”

In an ideal scenario, your brain can operate for an hour efficiently provided it is followed by a 15-minute break. To gain maximum efficiency from an 8-hour workday, this is how it needs to play out. Few people can actually afford to do this in a typical office environment.

There is then the question about how productive an actual day in the office can be. Employees within a typical office are generally spending more than an hour catching up with news online. They also spend an average of 30 to 45 minutes on social media.

Employee chats take away roughly an hour from the typical workday. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

There is also the other social quotient in almost every office wherein employees chat around about topics not related to their work, and are actually searching for their next job online. This takes away roughly another hour from the typical workday.

Shorter work week

Keeping this in mind, a number of companies today are experimenting with something even more radical — a shorter work week with fewer hours to boost productivity levels.

In this scenario, working hours are cut down radically, with employees generally not spending anything more than 32 hours a week in the office. The results look promising.

For example, a study in Sweden revealed nursing staff members who worked 30 hours a week had a 50 percent spike in attendance compared to nurses working the traditional 40-hour week. They also had more than a 60 percent spike in productivity and were 20 percent happier as well.

The question of whether this reduced work-hour week could be applied universally across industrial sectors is obviously going to be something up for serious debate. However, there are definitely techniques that you can apply to spike up your efficiency by spending less time at work. You can definitely experiment with this if you have the privilege of setting your own hours.

Set the numbers — Have an outline of what your working week should be like. You could go for a 6-hour, 3-day work week or a 5-day week where you work for 4 hours a day. Set up something that you feel could be worked out, and stick to it.

Have an outline of what your working week should be like. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Batch it up — If there’s a daily task that you can bunch up and execute in a single day, go for it. Similarly, if there are tasks that you perform intermittently between tasks such as calling up customers or checking on your email, assign a specific time frame to complete it all at once. This saves you time and spikes up efficiency.

Free time — Decide ahead what to do with the free time you gain by cutting down on your workweek. This is totally up to you. You can make it productive by working on a personal project that you’ve been keeping off like a hobby or sports or writing. You could also spend more time with the family, and help children with their projects. Segment this free time as well within your work week so you are achieving your true potential.

Not many people have the flexibility to choose their own hours or select their projects. However, by starting a conversation with the people who have control over this, you can definitely get the ball rolling and try this out.

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