Is it Possible to Work Less and Earn More?
For small business owners working 70-80 hours a week is normal, but are you being productive in that time? Many companies are finding that working fewer hours a week is more efficient. They have found that working just 40 hours a week could improve productivity more than 70 hours a week.
In the 1990’s the Ford Motor company was one of the first major businesses in America that used the 40-hour, Monday-Friday work week. They considered that working 8-hour days for 6 days of the week was normal. Henry Ford, the owner of the company, believed that well-paid men that have more free time would buy more things, like his cars.
Many people can agree that working 9-5, Monday to Friday is considered as normal, but what about other places in the world?
America – People from America work 47 hours a week, and their average annual salary is $44,888.
Netherlands – People from the Netherlands work 29 hours a week, and their annual salary is $47,000.
Denmark – People from Denmark work 33 hours a week, and their annual salary is $46,000.
Norway – People from Norway work 33 hours a week, and their annual salary is $44,000.
Ireland – People from Ireland work 34 hours a week, and their annual salary is $51,000.
Germany – People from Germany work 35 hours a week, and their annual salary is $40,000.
There are many companies in America that encourage working less. Some of them are already exploring the idea of working a short week and making sure that no one works past 40 hours. These companies are:
Treehouse – Treehouse is an online education website that teaches coding and app design. They were founded in 2011 and have started working 32 hours a week. Ryan Carson, the co-founder of the company, says “32 hours of higher quality work is better than 40 hours of lower quality work.”
Basecamp – Basecamp is an online collaboration and project management tool. They were founded in 1999 and have started working 32 hours a week, the same as Treehouse. Jason Fried, the founder of the company, says “When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed work week you tend to focus on what is important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”
BambooHR – BambooHR is a provider of online HR management software. They were founded in 2008 and stick to the normal 40 hours a week. To make the most of their week the company teaches their employees to let clients know when they will be unavailable, this is to make sure problems get solved on work time. They use tele-meeting programs rather than meeting person to person this limits interruption like emails or meeting.
If you want to start implementing short work weeks these are the strategies that companies are trying:
Four 10-Hour days – With this strategy it means you still get 40 hours a week but then an extra weekend day, but it means you will be working longer days which means more distractions.
Off-set schedules – This would mean setting employees to work Monday to Thursday then others Tuesday – Friday. This means that someone would be in the office every day of the work week, but because schedules wont line up it would be difficult to communicate.
– These means you will have most of your employees working the full week but if they ever need irregular days off, this could get unorganised.
If you are thinking of switching to shorter weeks, then it might make it difficult to meet customer needs. The state of Utah went back to tradition Monday – Friday workweeks after 3 years of 4-day weeks, many residents complained that services were available on certain days. It also means that employees were meant to work 9-10-hour days, this was mentally and physically draining for employees that were trying to compact 5 days of work into just 4 days. There are some benefits to working a shorter week though! If you are a new company starting with shorter weeks can be more effective as you can get every edge on your competition. A shorter week can make it easier for start-up businesses to attract perfect talent. You can also save money on your energy bills, when the state of Utah worked 4 days a week they found that it cut their energy costs by 13%.