Why companies should move to a reduced work week

03 September, 2019
By Dharshini

Why Companies Should Move To A Reduced Work Week

The standard workweek that we know of today is 40 hours - eight hours a day for five days a week. In some industries, this stretches up to a maximum of 44 hours a week - an additional four hours on the sixth day of the week.

While this is legal in Singapore, whereby employees covered under the Employment Act are allowed to work a maximum of 44 hours per week, this might seem excessive in other countries.

Today, a 40-hour workweek has become the social and cultural norm. Ironically, anything more is deemed as excessive while anything less is seen as skiving on the job.

Theoretically, as one becomes more prosperous in terms of wealth, it is only natural to opt to work fewer hours. However, that does not seem to be the situation. Instead, people continue working at the same pace or even clocking in more working hours. All these productivity is channeled into higher levels of material consumption - bigger houses, fancier gadgets and high-end cars, yet people do not have the time to enjoy it. The solution? A reduction in the standard workweek.

As society today gradually moving towards a flexible work arrangement, taking it a step further by calling for shorter work weeks can significantly improve the quality of life. Here are some clear benefits for the environment, economy and society in implementing a shorter work week.

1. Productive Employees

Employees who work less tend to be more productive by the hour as compared to employees who continually push themselves beyond the social norm of 40 hours every week. These employees are likely to be less prone to fatigue and burnout, reducing the rate of absenteeism and resulting in a committed and productive workforce.

2. Improved well-being

A shorter work week would mean that employees have more time to spend with their loved ones and friends or activities they enjoy. This can greatly reduce stress levels and improve employees' physical and mental health. Working less can also help people move away from the mindset of living to work and earning to consume, allowing people to appreciate the little things that truly matter in life.

3. Reduced carbon footprint

With fewer hours spent in the office, this would naturally mean a lower paper consumption rate. In turn, it will allow companies and society as a whole to move towards a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly workplace.

4. Gender equality

Women are currently expected to juggle between family and workplace commitments. Moving towards a shorter work week as the new societal "norm" can help to change perception about gender roles and promote an equal share of family and workplace commitments between both genders.

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5. A stronger democracy

With reduce working hours, people will have more time to be involved in community activities, engage in politics or even volunteer work. This will eventually help to build a stronger and more cohesive society.

While there are numerous benefits to a shorter work week, any move towards reducing the number of working hours needs to be implemented gradually. Concurrently, efforts should be made to strengthen the workplace culture in order to accommodate this change. Such a change might not be immediate but it is definitely only matter of time.

Posted in Human Resource