12th July 2017
Studies elsewhere have shown that people working fewer hours are actually more productive – so is this something that could catch on in the UK’s working culture?
Working long hours is part of the culture in the UK – particularly in traditional professions, and among people running their own small businesses. Our worth and commitment is often measured by how long we’re in the office, rather than by what we do when we’re there.
This attitude can be extended to how employers perceive people who work shorter hours – even when those are the contracted hours – and those who ask for flexible working time or shorter days.
It’s becoming clearer, however, that people who work shorter hours are more productive, less likely to be ill, and less likely to request additional leave. Where studies have been undertaken – in Sweden, for example – there have been unequivocal statistics that support the theory that people are more productive when they work fewer hours. Historically, a lack of this kind of evidence has given employers a good reason not to consider reduced hours, but as results keep coming in, perhaps enlightened employers here will consider a trial run.
If you reduce your employees’ hours, should you pay them less? Not necessarily. You’ll make savings anyway – on overheads such as heating and lighting – and your employee is likely to get more done in the allotted time, so you should also gain in terms of tasks completed.
Perhaps a move towards a shorter working week will take more than one shift in mind-set. As well as challenging our preconceptions about how long people are in the office, we may need to start seeing value in productivity and achievement, rather than in a by-the-hour reward.
The concept of getting more done in fewer hours doesn’t work for every business model, of course. Customer-facing businesses, like retail, events and hospitality, revolve around opening hours and customer interaction – you’re not necessarily going to sell more product by reducing your hours.
For other businesses, though, it might be worth considering – particularly, maybe, in areas of your business that you feel could be more productive.
If this is something that might be interesting to discuss for your business, why not talk to us about any potential financial impact, and how you can measure productivity across your company?