The five-hour work day: Pros and cons

A recent article on into the Scandinavian-inspired practice of five-hour work days and howseveral Australian companies have adopted the approach with great success.Hobart-based Collins SBA is a financial firm but the long hours typicallyassociated with that industry are not present – as long as employees fulfiltheir regular responsibilities, they can be out of the office at two o’clock inthe afternoon.

Stories of this nature oftenstimulate debate over the validity of cutting back and the benefits (orconsequences) that come from doing so. Unsure of which way you’re leaning? We’veput together a list of pros and cons for dropping the traditional nine-to-fiveworking arrangement.


Boost productivity

A common argument for cuttingback the hours is the belief that while a person might sit in an office foreight or nine hours each day, they aren’t working for this entire period andthe tasks they do complete are done in a smaller block of time. Hence slashingthose hours where nothing gets done and encouraging people to be more efficienton the basis they get to leave a great deal earlier.

Improved wellbeing

It’s amazing the difference threehours can make to a person’s day. Employee morale is naturally going to liftwhen they are able to finish in the daylight, allowing them more time to spendwith their family, exercise and enjoy their hobbies. This positive energytranslates into the workplace, enhancing motivation to perform.

Reduce sick leave

Workers throwing ‘sickies’ when theyaren’t actually ill is costly for businesses and can often come as a result ofpeople being rundown and disenfranchised with their jobs. Employees who arereaping the above benefits, who are happy and satisfied, aren’t as likely toresent being at work and consequently, take less sick days.


Doesn’t suiteveryone

As positive asthe pitch for the five-hour work day, it isn’t going to work for everyemployee. Some people might struggle with the adjustment from stretching theirdaily responsibilities over an eight hour to condensing their workload or tryto take advantage of the new system by not working as hard. 

Impact oncustomers

This won’t beas big a deal for organisations that has limited interactions with customersbut for those that do, it is a significant factor. Customer satisfaction islikely to drop fast if access to a service, whether in person, online or overthe phone, is more difficult to attain.

Useful Links:

Fourkeys to being a good manager

Howto know it is time to leave your job (and how to do it right)

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