Why have companies moved from a 6-day workweek to a 5-day workweek?

Have you wondered why companies moved from a 6-day workweek to a 5-day workweek? Won’t it have an impact on meeting the organizational goals?

Here is the ‘Reason’ for the change:

We’re programmed to believe that working longer and harder gets us great achievement.  But what if you work less and effectively?

Decades of research support the 5-day workweek over the 6-day workweek and shows that working longer can lead to serious negative effects on health, family life, and productivity of the individual. Also, working long hours has many harmful effects on health. Low on free time, employees may disown good habits that counteract the negative effects of a high-stress lifestyle and overworking certainly cuts into dedicated time with family and friends.

But beyond the obvious effects on health, working too much can actually affect the imaginary function. In one five-year study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants completed a variety of tests to evaluate intelligence, verbal recall, and vocabulary. Compared to people who worked 40 hours per week, those who worked 55 hours per week showed poorer vocabulary and logical reasoning.

In fact, working more doesn’t have the positive effect on productivity. Overtime only works in short period, and when sustained, does not increase productivity and may actually hamper it.

Who popularised 40 hours per week?

Before Henry Ford popularised the 5-day, 40-hour workweek in the 1920s, many companies emphasised working 6 days a week. He instituted the new working hours for his employees at Ford Motor Company, in order to give them more time with family, but also to increase their productivity.

Of course, some people are so passionate about their jobs that they work even in their free time which takes their total working hours more than 40 hours. In my interactions with a few friends from the startup gen in the tech sector who say detaching themselves actually make them more anxious since they are ignorant of what’s happening around them.

But even the lucky ones who love their jobs should consider stepping back. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Hewlett mentioned that many of these workers loved their jobs, and called them “exciting”,”an adrenaline rush,” and “addictive.” However, the toll on their intimate relationships and their health got from bad to worse . ‘Close to 50% of extreme workers are so depleted and drained when they get home at night that they’re speechless – incapable of conversation’. The research also found links between long hours and chronic insomnia, weight gain, infertility, and heart problems.

Being optimistic…

It comes to us as a surprise when we hear that a few companies have a 4-day workweek. If countries like The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany can follow a 4 -day workweek, what is stopping us in making this transition possible?

Farzi Ahmed