How the Debate About Shorter Work Time Has Reignited

This Wired article promotes the 5-hours day: ‘The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five‘. Based on some experiments, the concept of compressed working is being more widely tested, sometimes with mixed results.

Some companies that have tested the concept reported mixed results. Shorter workdays result in people being more focused on their tasks, but also some stress about getting things done. There is also a debate between 4-day week and 5-hour days concepts.

Promoter of the 5-hours day assert that “Research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something. There are periods when you can push past that, but the reality is that most of us have about that good work time in us every day.” In that sense some organizations report significant effectiveness increase of having shorter days with no breaks. However “not all jobs are suitable to be done in five-hour bursts. Research may have found that people’s creativity dwindles after five hours of concentration, but not all jobs require people doing them to be creative. “There’s an awful lot of work that doesn’t require deep focus,” Pang says. In call centres, care homes and factory lines, staff are needed simply to get the work done and, as Ford Motor Company demonstrated, there is a very good reason to ask them to do it in eight-hour shifts“.

In any case, the debate about the best working timetable remains open. For creative work it would seem that shorter but more intense worktimes is favorable, and this needs then to fit around personal schedules.