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6 Hour Office & Productivity

The demand for maximum efficiency took a toll on workers as the industrial revolution pushed on. This meant typically men worked in factories or mines from sunrise to sunset, and many lost their lives in the process. This was before tech offices with ball pits and millennials who require coffee bars.

Instead, one thing was demanded, 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will. 

Great sacrifices were made to guarantee what we take for granted such as the 8 hour work day, weekends, holidays, and child labor laws. We are so used to it that we never even thought of changing the work week. 

Productivity and Independence 

In 1930, in the throes of the Great Depression, cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg decided to conduct an experiment. He replaced the three daily eight-hour shifts at his plant in Battle Creek, Michigan with four six-hour shifts. The results? The company hired hundreds of new people, production costs plummeted, and employees operated more efficiently, learning to prioritize leisure over work. Vestiges of the system remained in place until 1985.

Uri Friedman


More control over your schedule and the flexibility to pursue interests outside of work only leads to more productivity and lower stress. This is also a large benefit to workers with family needs as well, whether it is caring for your children or elderly parents. 

Schedule flexibility can make the difference between staying at home with children or continuing to pursue your career. Even if you are child free, the freedom to de-stress and relax when needed will ultimately make you a better, happier worker. 

Sweden's Study 

We may become frightened when we hear about government experiments on employees, but this one was actually not bad. A few municipal workers were selected to assume a 6 hour work day in Gothenburg, Sweden last year. 

The bottom line is that productivity -- driven by technology and well-functioning markets -- drives wealth far more than hours worked. And very few jobs in developed economies nowadays are classic assembly-line positions, where working 20 percent longer will mechanically produce 20 percent more widgets. 

Uri Friedman


In addition to the government, other places in the town began experimenting with the concept too. 

What Exactly Happened?

A month later, the lovely town of Gothenburg reported on their findings. 

“I think that it has been just as I hoped for. It has become calmer and nice and you have more energy during your free time and you are more awake at work,” 

Jennie Anttila


Many countries are experimenting with ways to increase productivity.

The free thinking youth that our grandparents rolled their eyes at are now holding higher positions and  viewing people psychologically instead of in terms of numbers. We live in an era that makes clocking in and out irrelevant.  

And Why Is That?

The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more.

Travis Bradberry


The general pattern we discovered has already been determined when the work week was reduced to 8 hours. Happy workers are productive workers. 

Your Turn

What have you done for your company to make it a better work environment? Do you grant employee retreats? Work from home? Let us know!

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