Would you like to finish early today?

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What would you do if you could regain a couple of hours a day to rest, exercise or pursue a hobby you didn’t have time for before?

If you think this is the stuff of fantasy, think again. Employers are discovering that reduced working hours are having a big impact on productivity and creativity in the workplace.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of employee wellbeing to long-term business success, and employers have acknowledged the need to offer ‘flexible working hours’. However, in practice, many struggle to balance individual needs with office patterns. Could the answer lie instead in the natural peaks and troughs of our energies?

As individuals we focus on our basic physiological needs of survival – breathing, food and water – to keep going through periods of low energy, so as the clock ticks by, it feels as if only a cup of coffee or an unhealthy snack will help us get through to the end of the day. What if we allowed our bodies the time and space to navigate these ‘troughs’ naturally?

Increased awareness of these biological cycles has prompted a cultural shift in the way we look at working hours.  Numerous companies in Sweden are said to be experimenting with a six-hour working day, in a bid to boost employees’ motivation and productivity levels through better work-life balance. Closer to home, Norwich based digital company Curveball Media trialled it in their offices for one month.

The trial was prompted by their need to address the ‘3pm slump’ and improve their work-life balance, hoping that this would lead to greater levels of creative energy. While the participants were initially unsure how they would fit seven-and-a-half hours of work into six, they ended up learning how to plan their time better and work more efficiently.

Everyone was welcome to stick to their usual work pace and style and stay longer, but if they did it was from their own choice. As a result, employees felt they had better control and responsibility over their work life. The trial was extended for another month, and then another…

We asked Curveball’s Oliver Lawer why he and his colleagues decided to stick with their arrangements indefinitely. “The six hour working day continues to work wonderfully for us,” he explained. “Deadlines are always met, the office is a flurry of activity and there’s just as much, if not more, laughter than before. It’s allowed us to spend even more time discussing how to further the company and ourselves as individuals. And on top of all this, staff morale is at an all-time high.”

Would you consider trialling reduced hours in your workplace? Let us know how you get on! You can contact us on:

Tel: 020 3142 8650

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.stress.org.uk