Have you ever thought that the more you work, the more tasks you’ll get done? Unfortunately, this is just an illusion that most people believe in.
Today more and more people work 50, 60, and even 70 hours a week, turning their desks into second homes.
However, multiple experiments done by K. Anders Ericsson, one of the top experts on the psychology of work, have shown that people can only do 4 or 5 hours of productive work per day. After their performance reaches its highest point, output tends to stall, and people suffer at work.
“If you’re pushing people well beyond the time they can really concentrate maximally, you’re very likely to get them to acquire some bad habits. What’s worse, those bad habits could end up spilling into the time people are normally productive,” Ericsson tells.
Managers who shortened the work week got more significant returns on their investment in terms of output, worker retention, and their personal and professional happiness.
Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, implemented a 32-hour work week in 2006. Ever since, his employees have become happier and more productive.
According to Carson, the company is very successful today, its annual revenue is estimated in the millions of dollars, and employees are happy to come to work each day.
A similar story is true for Reusser Design, a full-scale web development company. They switched to a four-day work week back in 2013. Company founder Nate Reusser says, “Even if employees work overtime on Fridays, their performance is much higher. You have no idea how people hustle to finish projects before they go on vacation.”
As an experiment, the four-day school week was also introduced for 4th and 5th graders in Colorado. As it turned out, the reading and math results of students who studied for just four days a week went up by 6% and 12% accordingly compared to kids who attended for all five.
“I think the idea that children will be fully concentrating during all their classes is unreasonable,” Ericsson says. This is especially true for children who have problems concentrating and staying focused.
The findings of this research suggest that even a simple redistribution of work time can have enormous benefits for employees and companies.
In 2008, in the middle of America’s financial crisis, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman implemented a plan to reorganize the work week.
Nearly 75% of state employees switched to a four-day week but began to work 10 hours per day. This solution not only reduced the costs for heating, cooling, and powering the buildings but also produced increased worker morale. People enjoyed the extra day off and were satisfied with the change since they were no longer slogging through rush-hour traffic.
That is why shortening the work week is useful both for employees and companies.