The shorter working day up for debate: Benefits and drawbacks of working fewer hours.
14 de February de 2020
14 de February de 2020
Should we reduce the number of hours that employees work? Find out the pros and cons of a shorter working day.
For years now, the working day has been the focus of countless debates research projects that aim to find out whether a reduction in the hours worked per day results in greater productivity or, just the contrary, it leads to poorer performance. On the one hand, some people argue that companies would benefit from a compressed working day thanks to employees who are more motivated and hence more efficient. On the other hand, others assert that a radical change in the current work schedule could have just the opposite effect by removing the routine that most employees have internalized for so many years. With these opposing views, we ask ourselves whether or not we should shorten the working day?
In favour of a shorter working day
Those who support a reduction in working hours seem to be the majority. Everybody from researchers and academics to workers of all levels and industries agrees that it would be better for companies to replace the current working day with a more flexible schedule that would facilitate a healthier work/life balance. Why? Simply because happier employees work better and even more.
In a study on work/life balance and performance, the researchers Biedman and Medina (2014) from the Universidad de Cádiz concluded that, for employees, one of the variables that has the greatest impact on their personal wellbeing is spending time with their family. In other words, striking a harmonious balance between their professional and family lives appears to be a key factor in employee satisfaction and their performance in the company. If this balance is jeopardized, the researchers state that there is an increase in stress, absenteeism and resignations. In contrast, if a better balance between the different parts of our lives is fostered, motivation, satisfaction and performance are improved.
A flexible timetable with fewer working hours and more free time seems to be the ideal solution for enabling employees to spend more time with their family. According to Montañez (2011) from the Universidad de Zaragoza, a continuous working day (also known as an intensive timetable, from 7 am to 3 pm) and a greater proportion of working from home would enable employees to combine their family, social and romantic lives more effectively, which would result in enhanced productivity and competitiveness. However, Montañez (2011) warns that any change must be introduced gradually to ensure that it produces positive results.
Against a shorter working day
On the other side of the argument, although it garners less support, those who argue against a reduction in the working day are still winning the debate because, as yet, very few companies apply an intensive timetable and even fewer implement other models such as the four-day week or a 25-hour working week.
What arguments do they put forward against the shorter working day? Primarily, they believe that a reduction in the number of hours worked would negatively affect productivity and competitiveness. They also argue that fewer hours at the office would weaken the employees’ bond with the company and each other, thereby endangering the work culture and performance in general.
So, what should we do? Despite resistance from companies, which insist on maintaining the split working day (9 am – 7 pm), the fact is that companies will slowly shift towards a more flexible timetable that helps employees strike a better balance with their family and social lives.