Companies are always looking to improve employee efficiency, so why do so many of them cling to the 8-hour workday?
It all started during the Industrial Revolution when people worked up to 16 hours a day. That was unsustainable, so when a guy named Robert Owen stepped up and said, “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours’ rest,” a whole movement formed behind him. They eventually got what they wanted, and it’s been the standard ever since.
While we’re all grateful for Robert Owens’ quest, study after study shows that eight hours is still too long.
Here are a few ways non-traditional hours can benefit your business:
Humans Aren’t Machines
We’re cyclical by nature. So when we’re forced to work linearly, it can mentally exhaust us quicker.
The ideal cycle is around 50 minutes to an hour of focused work, followed by a 15 to 20 minute break. Workers who follow this pattern are more productive throughout their day and less stressed out by the end.
Many workers intuitively know this and will take that time for themselves—covertly if they have to. But pretending to be busy and always being on alert for watchful eyes still creates stress.
That’s why employers need to create an environment where workers don’t have to pretend they’re working when the boss walks past their desk. Normalize taking multiple short breaks a day—whether that be checking Facebook, reading a novel, or taking a walk.
The company’s focus should be on results instead of micromanaging every minute of an employee’s day.
Consider a Shorter Workday
While taking more time for yourself during your workday can ease stress and actually boost your productivity, some people would like to get through their work as quickly as possible and take an hour or two of their day back for themselves.
According to a recent blog from Brath, a search engine optimization company, “Another big benefit [of shortening the workday to 6 hours] is that our employees produce more than similar companies do.”
Of course, this won’t work for every industry. Depending on the type of work your company does, it may make sense for some departments and not others. That’s why you should consider flexibility between departments and possibly between roles.
Focus On Results Instead of Time
Letting employees structure their day around intervals of one hour on, 15 minutes off, and encouraging them to do so isn’t some new workplace fad. As research discovers more about how our minds work, it becomes obvious that change is needed. And with scientific studies showing that productivity is boosted by regular rest, companies have no reason not to adapt to these findings.
Giving people the option to spread two hours of break time throughout their day or take a six-hour day instead could be a great way to remain flexible to your employees’ needs and still get the same amount of work done.
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