Despite advances in technology, Americans are working more than ever. Read why one professor thinks working less could actually make us more productive.
How many hours do you work each day? If you’re like the majority of Americans, your answer is probably eight or more.
But what if, instead, you only worked six hours per day? Rather than losing valuable working hours, do you think you’d actually be more productive?
University of Iowa professor Benjamin Hunnicutt does. In his recent book “Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream,” he examines our growing workweeks and shrinking leisure time.
The Tale of the Six-Hour Work Day
In addition to the fact that our 40-, 60-, and 80-hour workweeks take away simple pleasures — such as time spent with family or enjoying the outdoors — Hunnicutt argues that they aren’t even effective.
And happiness expert Alexander Kjerulf tends to agree. On his blog, he highlights one story from Hunnicutt’s book: when, during the Depression, cereal factory Kellogg’s switched to six-hour work days rather than lay people off.
This is what happened:
“The company found that the shorter workday influenced employees to work harder and more efficiently. The results included drastic reductions in overhead costs, labor costs, and the number of work-related accidents. Unit cost of production ‘is so lowered we can afford to pay as much for six hours as we formerly paid for eight,’ Kellogg boasted in a newspaper in 1935.”
Not to mention, the employees enjoyed a higher quality of life, finally having time to pursue hobbies and spend quality time with their loved ones.
It is said that history is the best teacher. Given our overstressed, overworked, and overwhelmed working world, it might be time to take a page from the 1930s and give six-hour work days a shot.
Do you think we need more leisure time? Would we be more productive if we switched to six-hour work days?
Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.