Work-Life Balance

3 reasons your team would benefit from a 6-hour work day

Written by Eric Titner

We all know the old saying about “all work and no play…,” and although it’s a well-worn cliché at this point, it’s hard to deny that there is an important truth contained within. Spending too much time of our time working is rarely a recipe for a happy and well-balanced life.

In fact, many experts and business leaders across industries now believe that there’s a tipping point at which spending too much time working can actually have a negative countereffect on efficiency. Imagine putting in those extra hours every week at your job only to realize that it’s actually hurting your productivity, not to mention the unfortunate effects it’s having on your general health and well-being.

Healthline published an article on common effects of working too much, and it included a bunch of serious potential outcomes that shouldn’t be ignored: added alcohol use to in order to relax post-work; stalled productivity; compromised sleep and daytime fatigue; depression; added stress; increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer; extra back and neck pain; and negative effects on personal relationships.

Clearly, the seriousness of this issue has led businesses to start paying attention—in fact, many are starting to look harder at decreasing the length of workdays in an effort to offset the potential adverse side effects of overworking. Another factor that’s helping to drive the case for shorter workdays is technological innovation—simply put, the tools we now have at our disposal to help us get our jobs done allows us to do more and to be more productive, in less time than ever before.

Currently, there’s no unanimous consensus regarding how long the “perfect sweet spot” is for the modern workday, but there is a growing number of businesses that are experimenting with the 6-hour workday, and the initial results are encouraging. Harvard Business Review recently made a case for the six-hour weekday, which includes a wealth of intriguing ideas about how today’s companies—and employees—can potentially benefit from moving to this workday model. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways your team can benefit from moving to shorter workdays.

Enhanced prioritization

Simply put, when we have fewer hours dedicated to getting things done, we work harder to prioritize tasks and responsibilities. This has a clear net benefit—prioritization empowers us to get organized, recognize and laser focus on the most important and essential tasks, and plan appropriately, all which help projects of all scopes and sizes get started on the right foot and progress effectively. When we move through our workdays scatterbrained and disjointed, we’re more prone to get distracted, disorganized, and derailed. Here’s the bottom line: shorter workdays and improved focus and prioritization are win-win scenarios for employers and employees alike.

Honesty and focus

Who among us isn’t familiar with unrealistic expectations at work? In fact, the mantra of many of today’s companies is “do more with less,” which often translates to fewer overworked employees being saddled with more responsibilities than they can feasibly handle at any given time, with fewer resources at their disposal in order to get things done.

What does this often mean? Many of us expanding our already-long workdays in a futile effort to stay afloat at our jobs and avoid drowning in an unfinished ocean of daily tasks, which often leads to burnout, high rates of job turnover, and unfinished or poorly executed projects. Who does that benefit?

Shorter workdays typically force employers and employees to be more realistic with what they can accomplish and be more mindful about what resources are needed in order to stay on track.

Happier employees

Who knew that happier employees typically mean more productive and reliable workers? Lots of today’s most progressive and innovative companies, actually—including those who are turning to shorter workdays in an effort to empower their workers to have a healthier and happier work-life balance. Companies are increasingly abandoning the outdated and simply ill-conceived notion that they need to wring every last drop of time and energy from their employees, and are learning to accept the idea that less raw hours spent at work doesn’t mean less work getting done. Quite the opposite, it often translates to happier and more energized workers who are eager to roll up their sleeves and be productive. What business doesn’t want that? 

If you’re a business owner or key decision maker at your company and are considering the idea of moving to a shorter workday but are looking for convincing reasons to do so, hopefully, the ideas presented here will get you to embrace the notion that this strategy is a great idea for your team.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.