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Is working less the key to success?

John Maynard Keynes once said there?d be a 15-hour workweek by 2030.

More and more businesses are beginning to experiment with four-day weeks. According to research, the implications of this are advantageous for improving productivity and overall work quality. 


Findings show that from examining the association between long working hours and cognitive function in middle age via short-term memory, vocabulary, phonemic fluency, and semantic fluency tests, compared with working 40 hours per week at most, working more than 55 hours per week was associated with lower scores in the vocabulary test. Thus, longer working hours have a negative effect on cognitive performance in middle age.


A new paper by John Pencavel of Stanford University, also shows that reducing working hours can be good for productivity as employees at work for a longer time may experience fatigue or stress that not only reduces his or her productivity but also increases the probability of errors, accidents, and sickness that impose costs on the employer. 


Desk-based work heavily relies on adequately allocated ?switch off time? and brain rest. Pushing people past their natural limits does not make them inefficient; it has a long-term knock-on effect with the remaining weekdays. 


According to the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, only about 20% of what you do each day produces 80% of your results. Implementing a four day week is a simple concept that although seemingly appears to form a drastic change in the average day-to-day working environment that we are so accustomed to, in fact is not as disrupting as one would think. Timings can be rearranged so that employees aren?t working few hours at all; in fact, the hours are rearranged from five days of eight hours from four days of 10 hours. If you know that you have to fit everything into fewer days, it will improve overall efficiency. When there?s less time to work, there?s less time to waste. 


There are a small handful of companies that already live by the four-day working week:


Treehouse, an online-education company has been doing so for ten years. CEO, Ryan Carson said, ?You get all day Friday off, instead of pretending like you?re working when you?re not.? a Latin American search engine used to work five days a week but two years in they decided to try something different. The company?s co-founder, Christian Rennella told Allthatsfab, ?We said we?re going to try it for only three months and if everything is working and the same amount of work is done, we can say three more months. Five years later we haven?t stopped.? The result? The company has grown annual revenue by 204%.

Basecamp, a software company has its employees take off Friday in the summer from May through to October. ?Better work gets done in four days than in five,? states CEO Jason Fried.

It is not only quality of life that is a reason for thought on championing the four-day week. A recent report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research has suggested that it can have a much wider reach – a worldwide shift to shorter working hours could reduce carbon emissions enough to halve additional expected global warming between now and 2100.