Dreaming of a shorter workday? It might be good for you, and, according to a story published in The Guardian detailing an experiment with a six-hour workday, cutting back may be good for your company, too.
Swedish nursing home Svartedalens has been trialling shorter days, without reducing salaries. The premise: people everywhere are working even longer hours, but that’s not necessarily a guarantee of happier customers or satisfied, productive employees.
After six months of the six-hour day (versus the usual eight hours), the nurses at the home felt less stressed and more energised. That in turn increased their quality of care, according to The Guardian. While researchers said it was too early to fully quantify the results, signs show that productivity improved and staff turnover decreased. There was one financial drawback. Fourteen new employees had to be hired to accommodate the extra shifts.
Other companies — Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, internet start-up Brath and app developer Filimundus — cut hours and haven’t looked back since, The Guardian reported. Staff said they felt better and were now able to better balance work with family. The change also increased efficiency and productivity, and the companies found it easier to recruit top-tier staff. Martin Banck, managing director at Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, told the Guardian that profits have grown by 25% since the shift to the shortened workday.
But don’t shorter workdays mean cramming the same amount of work into fewer hours and even more stress? Researchers in South Korea found that reducing work weeks from 44 hours to 40 hours, and promising Saturdays off, only increased workload strain instead of fostering happiness. The key to making a shorter workday successful is to understand that the change in hours might not be best for everyone or every company — such options need to be altered to meet the specific job and workplace needs, according to Cali Williams Yost, a workplace strategist based in New Jersey.
Of course, if you can’t convince your boss that shorter days are better for everyone, here are five people BBC Capital found who figured out how to take back their time in other, creative ways.
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