I recently saw an article on Inc. titled, “6 tricks to make the 5-hour workday work for you.” It made me think about just how arbitrary working 8 hours a day really is.
As the post says, working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. has “been used for so long that it’s become immortalized in song.” True. But did you ever stop and think, Why those hours? Why so many?
Somewhere in the distant past, someone decided if your employees aren’t working 40 hours a week, you’re not getting your money’s worth. But I’d be willing to bet you aren’t getting that anyway.
How do I know? Because I’ve worked 8-hour jobs before. It’s a lot of sitting around staring at the clock, willing time to move faster.
Are people more productive because they work longer hours? No.
Do a search for “working less hours makes employees more productive” and see how many posts pop up with real-life examples of how working fewer hours makes employees more productive and overall happier with their jobs.
Go on; I’ll wait.
Treating employees like grown-ups: the next frontier
The amount of hours employees are required to work rarely matches up with how much work actually needs to be done. Again, drawing on personal experience, I can say that some days require fewer than 8 hours, and some days require more.
In my post “How essential is it to go to work?”, I touched on the idea of treating your employees like adults capable of knowing how and when to get their work done. When treated like grown-ups, many people will actually act like grown-ups.
Who can blame an employee that grows to resent being treated like a child that needs to be told when to work, when to take a break, when to eat lunch, when to go home? That’s when loyalty to the company drops, as does productivity.
A different set of rules for a different world
It boggles the mind that many companies stick to rigid workplace rules set eons ago, before technology changed the way we get work done (faster, more efficiently). Especially when one considers how happier employees are more productive, and productive employees make for a more successful business.
In my opinion, a smart business owner is one that is willing to examine how her employees get work done, and is flexible enough to throw out the old rules in favor of a plan that helps employees be the best workers they can be.
What do you think? Time for companies to ditch the 8-hour work day? Check out the Inc. article linked above to see how manageable a 5-hour work day can be.