Advocates of a shorter working day say the approach boosts employee morale and productivity. Others argue it is too expensive and may reduce worker engagement.
So what’s the reality? Digital tourism agency Senshi began trialling six-hour days last March, and subsequently made it their permanent way of working. We asked Director Chris Torres how the approach has worked for him.
“When I first heard about the concept, I thought it was a great idea. Part of it was that my wife had just given birth to our second child. Also, I thought everyone at Senshi would love a bit more free time.
“When I told the team, they couldn’t believe I was suggesting it, but they were all in favour.
“During the first week I came up with a plan of how our days would go and showed it to our Production Manager. She agreed it, then we started a one-month trial, which was very successful. We’ve since implemented it permanently.,
“Our team pretty much self-manage their own projects. They know the deadlines that need to be hit. It’s definitely important to have a team capable of self-managing and working on their own initiative. The team here have been great. They all work together and help each other. They’re no less engaged than they were when we were working eight-hour days.
“We’ve seen production increase. Although we’re doing fewer hours, the team is more focused on getting tasks done within short sprints. We’ve actually seen projects completed more quickly.
“Work-life balance is definitely better too. People can get home earlier. I have more time to think at home. Being able to think with no distractions gives me time to plan and come up with ideas.
“Regarding internal communication, we tend to restrict our team meetings to our daily huddle. We try not to pull people off what they’re doing. Our Production Manager has more meetings, then relays things to the team so they can get on with their work. A lot of communication within the team is face to face.
“I can understand why some businesses might be hesitant to try the six-hour working day. One worry for me was ‘how will this affect our clients?’ But there have been no issues at all. All in all, it has been very successful.”
A typical day at Senshi
• 9.30am – 12.45pm: The team come into the office and work on tasks in 45-minute sprints, with five minute breaks between each sprint
• 12.45pm – 1.15pm: Lunch break
• 1.15pm – 2pm: Daily huddle, where team members share updates on their various projects
• 2pm – 3.30: More 45-minute sprints
• 3.30pm: Team members share summaries of their day, explaining what they’ve achieved and any problems they’ve encountered.