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Almost a century ago, renowned English philosopher Bertrand Russell put forward the idea that if society were better managed, the average worker would only need to put in four hours per day.
Sounds nice, right?
Well, new research published in The Economist is actually lending credence to Russell’s philosophy, finding that longer work hours actually hamper productivity, the reasoning being that output per hour falls when employees lose energy over time. Stanford University found declining productivity was because employees were simply less efficient due to very human factors such as stress and fatigue, as well as mistakes being more likely to be made by tired hands.
Twenty years ago, Ford Motor Company lent further evidence to the argument for working less, and accomplishing more when their evidence showed for every additional 20 hours of work above the recommended 40 hours, there is an increase in productivity only for three to four weeks before productivity actually turns negative.
So why is it that most of us will still encounter work martyrs at our place of employment – people who work a long day no matter what, taking pride in being first in and last out of the workplace?
And why is it that in some workplaces, the ‘martyr’ culture of long hours makes employees feel guilty for keeping their regular hours or leaving for their lunch break?
While the elusive dream of a four hour working day may still be a bit further off in the distance, as supervisors and decision makers search for the right balance to boost productivity and yield competitive gains, perhaps there is much to be learned from the philosophy of working less, and accomplishing more.
Mitrefinch Labour Costing can assist your business in working smarter, not harder. You can plan tasks across cost centres, compare tasks and budgets with previous results, and track your projects by hours, quantity, or cost and find your own insights into the strategy that works best for your business.