Do shorter work days increase employee productivity and improve employee happiness?

You may think that working long hours means you are getting more done. But, in fact, the later it gets in the workday, the more difficult it is to focus, and the easier it is to make mistakes.

From typos in memos, to sending emails to the wrong clients—it is a physical reality that your brain is not a multi-tasking machine: it needs rest! A recent article in the Atlantic explores the six-hour workday and its roots in the famous Kellogg factory in Sweden. The city of Gothenburg is the new laboratory for a six hour workday, and has “proposed a year-long trial that would divide some municipal workers into a test and control group at the same pay rate, with the test group working six-hour days and the control group working the traditional eight.” The idea is to test if working fewer hours will increase employee productivity, result in less sick days, and improve employee happiness.


Is a shorter workday ideal for your business, or could it actually hinder employee productivity?

Just as there is evidence that the six-hour workday can make workers more efficient, shorter work hours have detrimental effects as well.

  • For starters, not all employees are good at prioritizing tasks, working independently, and delivering quality work on a tight deadline. And, depending on the line of work, shorter work hours are not actually possible.
  • When it comes to customer service or sales, it is important that your employees are available when a client wants to make a purchase or has a question.
  • Leadership and management positions also require the ability to work extra hours, travel, and do what needs to get done to bring your business to the next level.
  • Working fewer hours does not necessarily mean less-stressful work condition. In fact, working within a more limited timeframe can add more stress to the workday. By trying to cram all of the tasks, projects, and meetings required of a longer workday into fewer hours, you may be setting yourself and your employees up for failure.

Workplace changes that will improve employee happiness, retention rates and productivity

Workplace Change Expert Tip

Businesses can make small changes to boost employee productivity , such as turning down the thermostat, or creating a new space design. There are other ways that the shorter workday has achieved negative results. According to the publication The Local, “People have seen…that the intensity of the job increases significantly, with negative effects on health as a consequence. It has certainly helped to improve productivity, but sickness has also increased.” So, the more stressful that a job is, the more negatively it affects your employees health.

So the 6-hour workday is not ideal for all businesses, but by recognizing the needs of your employees and incorporating the best features that a shorter workday has to offer, your employees will be happier and more efficient workers. Here’s how:

1. Create an open door policy

Get to know your employees by establishing an open-door policy. Ask your employees what changes in their work environment could improve their workflow. Transparency in the workplace builds employee trust and confidence, resulting in workers who believe that by putting in extra hours, their hard work will be rewarded and recognized.

2. Establish a comfortable work environment

Make a comfortable space for your employees to work in. From adding cozy furniture to creating lounge spaces where your employees can relax and work, your coworkers will greatly appreciate a space that reflects their needs. Keep ergonomics in mind, the science of making your body comfortable, and utilize furniture and accessories that help give support and protect your employees from injury.

3. Remind your employees to take breaks

By encouraging your employees to break regularly and to take their vacation time, you are showing your coworkers that you care about them and have their best interests at heart. This will help your employees get the rest that they need, and return to work more energized.

4. Establish “quiet zones”

Provide areas within your office that are “quiet zones” and allow your employees to better focus on their work. Noise is one of the leading distractions in the workplace, and you can help your employees overcome this. 


Our business moving experts will work with you to find a solution—such as furnishing and reconfiguring your space—for increased employee happiness and productivity today!