How much of the 40 hours in a work week do you think you’re actually working? Half of it? Three-fourths of it? What if the solution to getting more work done in a week was actually to work…less?
A study done by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an associate professor of economics and strategy at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, suggests — SHOCKER! — people are more productive when we have more free time to do things we love doing. As a result, he and other scientists are making a case for a four-day working week — in hopes of finding a balance between decreasing stress in the office and increasing productivity.
“I would argue the four-day working week is spot on in terms of finding or striking that right balance between improving the work-life balance and unlocking the happiness potential from that in terms of productivity gains,” De Neve said to BBC World News. “This outweighs the net reduction in productivity from working a day less.”
An eight-week trial in New Zealand found that the four-day week was effective. It bolstered teamwork and engagement and decreased stress among employees. Most importantly, work-life balance improved. Still, some participants had to leave the study when their schedules got busy — which could be chalked up to the fact that we’re all drastically overworked so that corporations can give more stock dividends to the 1%. Meanwhile, work quality didn’t show any massive gains, but according to participants, a three-day weekend was still pretty dope. Happiness is a good thing, any manager knows that.
If a three-day weekend doesn’t do it for your boss (because we know you’re about to email him/her with these studies), a 2015 study from Warwick University found that other incentives could work, too. While it still suggested the long weekend, it also found that participants were 8-12% more productive when given chocolate or having listened to a comedy clip before a task instead of thinking about a family loss (umm….?), clearly showing that employee happiness affects how efficiently they work.
We can definitely see that, given less time to be at work, productivity would increase among workers who wanna get their ish done before the weekend, but then there would still be the a-holes who just leave stuff incomplete at the end of the week, making everyone else have to work harder. Either way, it’s worth a try to present the idea to your boss, since you’re probably “working” right now.