Monday, September 28, 2009

The business case for a shorter working week

Following the fantastic news in New Scientist last week, I don't know if the mag's readers will be out of bed yet to read this. Yes, NS reported favourably on research in the state of Utah, USA in which all state employees except emergency services have been put on a four day week (same hours but worked over four days). So far it has reduced energy costs by 13%, reduced sick leave and 70% of employees prefer it. A full report is due next month.

Health campaigners have long argued that long working hours are dangerous and the Utah experiment could help demonstrate this. (I've even suggested that work will become the main cause of men's ill health in the developed world.) On the other hand it could make things worse if working days become longer and blackberryaholics continue to work over their three day week-end just as they continue to work over a two day one.

What is clear is that if businesses can see that their obsessive need to have people in the office is costing them money, this debate may finally get somewhere. At last there is a business case for a work-life balance.

No comments: