Tag Archives: six-hour days

Six-hour days: A success story

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.

Six hour days: Can we really do more with less?

How would your boss react if you asked to work fewer hours for the same pay?

It might sound unlikely, but research is showing that – for certain types of job – shorter working days can improve employee performance, morale and even health.

Of course, these benefits will pale in comparison for most employers if output is affected. So is it possible to achieve a ‘full day’s’ work in just six hours?

I thought I’d give it a try.

The method

Our business uses a task management tool that lets users track time spent on major tasks, but doesn’t account for internal meetings, everyday admin, lunch breaks, discussing the Strictly results, or any of the other daily duties that fall into the ‘unproductive’ basket.

By dividing my ‘tracked’ time by the length of time I spent in the office, I was able to calculate the percentage of each day that was spent productively.

The results

Length of day Percentage of time spent on productive tasks
Control week 1 (Eight-hour daily average) 65 per cent (5 hours, 16 minutes)
Control week 2 (Eight-hour daily average) 70 per cent (5 hours, 39 minutes)
Control week 3 (Eight-hour daily average) 68 per cent (5 hours, 31 minutes)
Six-hour test day 92 per cent (5 hours 32 minutes)

Conclusion

While I’m the first to admit this experiment is far from comprehensive, the results are too striking to simply dismiss out of hand.

As the Swedish research had indicated, I found that having less time spurred me on to get things done quickly. Yes, there was time pressure, but there is on most days.

Since I finished work at 3pm I was able to go and collect my kids from school and spend some time with them at home before the usual bath and bed routine – a rare treat.

On the down side, I did opt to take a shorter lunch break and there were internal reports and updates that I chose to defer until the following day.

Can it work for you?

Working six-hour days won’t be for everyone. Jobs that involve working outside an office environment (not to mention people who are self-employed) will find it hard to break away from the eight-hour grind.

But for those working in internal communications, the idea warrants a trial period at the very least – providing you can demonstrate that productivity won’t suffer.

We asked Vanessa Kettner, Coach with productivity training specialists Personal Best, for some advice on how people can optimise productivity and achieve more with less time.

  1. Write down the things you need to and want to do; don’t keep them in your head.
  2. Stick to your list – don’t be swayed unnecessarily by latest and loudest, or by other people’s agendas (unless your role requires it).
  3. Do on a weekly basis what most people only do before they go on holiday – review all of your upcoming appointments and commitments. Getting all your ducks in a row will help you feel in control and more relaxed.
  4. Don’t ‘live’ in your email inbox. Visit at regular intervals that are appropriate to your role.
  5. Employ the two-minute rule: if you can do something in less than two minutes, do it now.
  6. Be selective about which meetings you choose to attend. Is going to a particular meeting the absolute best use of your time?
  7. Make sure you have all the tools you need in order to work productively and that your workspace is attractive to you.
  8. Take breaks. Moving around and getting away from your desk will allow you to focus better when you’re back in your seat.