The five-hour work day: Pros and cons

May 11 2018
The five-hour work day: Pros and cons

A recent article on delved into the Scandinavian-inspired practice of five-hour work days and how several Australian companies have adopted the approach with great success. Hobart-based Collins SBA is a financial firm but the long hours typically associated with that industry are not present – as long as employees fulfil their regular responsibilities, they can be out of the office at two o’clock in the afternoon.

Stories of this nature often stimulate debate over the validity of cutting back and the benefits (or consequences) that come from doing so. Unsure of which way you’re leaning? We’ve put together a list of pros and cons for dropping the traditional nine-to-five working arrangement.


Boost productivity

A common argument for cutting back the hours is the belief that while a person might sit in an office for eight or nine hours each day, they aren’t working for this entire period and the tasks they do complete are done in a smaller block of time. Hence slashing those hours where nothing gets done and encouraging people to be more efficient on the basis they get to leave a great deal earlier.

Improved wellbeing

It’s amazing the difference three hours can make to a person’s day. Employee morale is naturally going to lift when they are able to finish in the daylight, allowing them more time to spend with their family, exercise and enjoy their hobbies. This positive energy translates into the workplace, enhancing motivation to perform.

Reduce sick leave

Workers throwing ‘sickies’ when they aren’t actually ill is costly for businesses and can often come as a result of people being rundown and disenfranchised with their jobs. Employees who are reaping the above benefits, who are happy and satisfied, aren’t as likely to resent being at work and consequently, take less sick days.


Doesn’t suit everyone

As positive as the pitch for the five-hour work day, it isn’t going to work for every employee. Some people might struggle with the adjustment from stretching their daily responsibilities over an eight hour to condensing their workload or try to take advantage of the new system by not working as hard. 

Impact on customers

This won’t be as big a deal for organisations that has limited interactions with customers but for those that do, it is a significant factor. Customer satisfaction is likely to drop fast if access to a service, whether in person, online or over the phone, is more difficult to attain.

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