Could working less benefit both employers and employees?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a German tech company that’s been experimenting with a five-hour workday. The company director has found that shortening the work hours down to 8am – 1pm made employees feel less overworked, and productivity remained the same despite the lost hours.

Though the days are shorter, the time spent at work is more focused, they reported. Small talk is discouraged and social media is banned. So if it worked in Germany could it work elsewhere?

Over in New Zealand, an estate and will management company found that allowing employees more time off can encourage them to work harder when they’re in the office. They implemented a four-day work week without docking anyone’s pay.

Not only was this a great move for the employees, but the company as a whole saw positive results as well. Productivity increased as workers ignored social media and private emails during work, meaning their level of engagement in their actual job rose.


The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that “working fewer hours than desired in part-time jobs was found to be significantly and positively, associated with job satisfaction.”

Overemployment — defined as working at least 45 hours per week and more hours than desired — “exhibited significant associations with chronic disease and depression.”

The three-day work week

In 2016, an Australian study set out to determine the ideal work schedule for people over 40. The results were encouraging for people who like long weekends. Researchers found that roughly 25 hours spread across three days was just right.

“In order for employees over 40 to function at the highest possible capacity,” Mental Floss reported, “a three-day (or 25 hour) work week may be best.”

Even if your employer would never go for these alternative schedules, perhaps you can still tweak your routine. Ohio University released a study that said an eight-hour workday is only effective if workers take a fifteen-minute break after every hour of work. So, get up and wander around a bit each hour. You can be a trendsetter!