Less Hours, More Productivity

There have been numerous scientific studies that support working less increases productivity in the workplace.

The average working hours for the UK are widely known as 9-5 (40 hour week), however research suggests that the average worker is only productive for two hours 53 minutes (read more here) in an 8 hour day.  On average work takes up 1/3rd of our day but we are only productive 12% of it.

So what do we all do in the other 5 hours and 7 minutes at work?

A study lead by the bureau of national statistics showed that of nearly 2,000 full-time office workers aren’t working for most of the time they’re at work.

The most popular unproductive activities listed were:

  1. Reading news websites–1 hour, 5 minutes

  2. Checking social media–44 minutes

  3. Discussing non-work-related things with co-workers–40 minutes

  4. Searching for new jobs–26 minutes

  5. Taking smoke breaks–23 minutes

  6. Making calls to partners or friends–18 minutes

  7. Making hot drinks–17 minutes

  8. Texting or instant messaging–14 minutes

  9. Eating snacks–8 minutes

  10. Making food in office–7 minutes

According to a recent experiment, conducted by the Swedish government, working less hours could lead to higher productivity. Reports found that a shortened workday led to an overall increase in productivity. While their base-line was slightly narrow, with the experiment being conducted among 68 nurses working at Svartedalens retirement home. Their working hours were brought down to six, while still being paid their eight-hour salary. The principle behind the experiment holds true for almost all industries and professionals.

Statistically speaking, 50 per cent of the nurses expressed to have had more energy after a six-hour workday, compared to 20 per cent of the eight-hour workers. At the same time, a 4.7 per cent reduction in total sick days taken was observed, as well as a noticeable reduction in absenteeism. Furthermore, nurses working the six-hour workdays, confessed to being less stressed and more physically active, with neck and back pain in check. One of the metric researches also surmised that this enabled them to carry out 64 per cent more active work, while dealing with elderly patients.

While this experiment was limited to a certain professionals in Sweden, companies across the world have and are taking a leaf out of its book. According to a Guardian’s UK-based report, people in the Netherlands work five hours lesser in a week than in Britain and in Germany, six hours less. Subsequently, at the time of this study, both the Dutch and German economies were flourishing significantly, and in some sectors even giving Britain a run for her money.

Not only is there evidence to show that working a shorter day is more productive but its also good for your employees.  Maintaining a good work/ life balance is a top priority for working these days, with more people valuing time over money, it also builds morale,  improves overall health and reduce rates of absenteeism and employee turnover.

It’s not only shorter hours that show an increase in productivity. Flexible working hours have also shown to help increase productivity and engagement, as well as meeting the changing needs of customers – when work is about more than showing up, things get done.