In the Philippines, an ideal workday would be 8-hours, or 40-hours a week. But in a recent survey, it showed that Filipino workers work for an average of 42.4 hours a week, and that's excluding travel time. The European Court has actually reported that traveling to work is already considered work. While they may have a different take on this, if you think about it in our setting, commuting in Metro Manila is already a draining task on its own.
So let's do the math, if you add your entire travel time of the week to the average work hours you do, how many hours would that be? It's like a scene fresh out of a horror movie—horrifying.
How would you feel, then, if we cut back working hours to six hours a day? We're sure you'd be jumping for joy just thinking about it. I know we are.
Sweden on a roll
Some companies in Sweden have been incorporating this idea for a couple of years now and their results were actually better than when they were working the 9 to 6 schedule.
The Toyota company in Gothenburg, Sweden, the pioneer company of this 6-hour workday concept, reported that with the 13 years they've tried this, they've had higher profits, better production and quality, and most importantly, happier and more efficient employees.
Similarly, Filimundus, a Stockholm-based app developer made a shift to six-hour work days last year, noting that the only major difference they got was it made their employees more productive and happy despite shortening work hours.
Brath, another tech startup, made the move three years ago, and they're saying that the biggest advantage of the new schedule was a low turnover rate.
"We also believe that once you’ve gotten used to having time for the family, picking up the kids at day care, spending time training for a race or simply just cooking good food at home, you don’t want to lose that again," says CEO Maria Brath.
"We believe that this is a good reason to stay with us and not only because of the actual impact longer hours would make in your life but for the reason behind our shorter days. We actually care about our employees."
After these companies cut worker hours, they saw production rate soar. And that's the dream, right? Less working hours, achieving more.
Work less, achieve more
Working long hours in an effort to do more does work (we've been doing it since time immemorial), but most often, the end results would be low job satisfaction rates, a lot of sick days, and sometimes, if you're really that kind of worker, it may even lead to death.
However, recent studies have shown that working less hours actually promotes productivity, both with the self and with a team.
“Probably it has never entered the heads of most employers that hours could be shortened and output maintained,” noted John Hicks, a British economist explaining that when working longer, a person's output actually falls. They will lose the energy to work which will make them less productive, or will result to a lot of mistakes.
Debunking the six
When you come to think about it, we really only work for six hours a day; the remaining two hours are spent doing personal activities such as checking on social media, chatting with colleagues, or answering emails. While this might seem to be in the best interest of workers, it may not be that beneficial to millennials who value work-life balance more than the previous generations.
The idea that Sweden is adopting this concept is to encourage their people to focus and hustle with the time given to them, and leave the office at a reasonable hour so they could spend time doing personal things.
The catch, though, is to discipline themselves on doing and finishing tasks on time, and to do that, they have to resist going to Facebook, and limiting meetings to once or twice a week.
Working less hours has also linked to less stress, and less stress means being more energetic and productive in the workplace.
So maybe Sweden's really on to something here; if we value an employee's time and well-being enough, then they'll be better, happier, and more productive not just in the workplace, but with life in general.