In late September it was it was disclosed that Richard Branson of the Virgin Group gives unlimited vacation days to his staff of nearly 200 employees. This has raised an interesting question: Is working less, more?
If people only work to complete the tasks they have and are allowed to enjoy personal time when tasks and projected are competed, will they work more productive and efficiently?
Currently many job fields require availability nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Set schedules including mandatory ‘on call’ availability or mandatory overtime have become more common while pay and benefits remain the same.
According to Forbes contributor Peggy Drexler in her article, “Consider the Benefits of The 4 Day Work Week,” currently more than half of American workers are working more than 40 hours a work week.
Spending 40+ hours a week at the office, a recommended 49 hours a week sleeping(based on 7 hours of sleep per night), if you also include time for fitness, meals and commuting, a lot of people may only have 2-3 hours of time a day to spend with family and for relaxation, which isn’t exactly well-rounded. This is especially true in a society where we are constantly plugged in and taking our work home with us. Some of us never clock out. Could shorter work days or shorter work weeks really be the key to more productive and happier employees?
Many companies are exploring the idea of a lower requirement of attendance from employees. Not necessarily saying, “Do as you wish,” but not forcing employees to work the typical 40 hours in the office each week. Giving employees options to telecommute a percentage of time, allowing them to work 4 day work weeks or simply just allowing them to use their own judgment as to when to come and go.
According to Bloomberg employers feel like when given the opportunity to control their own work time they will work more efficiently in order to keep the flexibility they receive and freedom.
Consider the following example; most successful sales people make their own schedule. While they may work many hours. they have the ability to take off time when needed. They work hard, even without the company obligation, because the results of that work is their livelihood. If employees are given the freedom to make their own schedule the expectations will be higher. If they fail to correctly do their jobs and abuse the relaxed work schedules they will ultimately lose either the position or the privilege.
Drexler mentions that open schedules can keep people in the workforce who otherwise may have to exit. For example single or new parents with younger children. A lot of couples find that having a one income household is often more efficient than having two incomes and paying for child care. Having the option to work from home or take the day out of the office could mean the difference between someone independently providing for their family or having to seek government assistance.
Workers could stay up to date on preventive medical care without having to worry about using vacation days to go to the doctor. Employees would also be less likely to come to work and spread viruses to their coworkers because they’d feel free to stay home and rest when sick.
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Which industries do you think could thrive from a relaxed work schedule? Where wouldn’t you want to see this? Tell your thoughts below.