17 Jan Are superheroes made from 90-hour working weeks?
One in eight employees suffer from a poor work-life balance: they work more than 48 hours a week, analysis by the TUC, seen by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, suggests. To combat this issue, some companies have taken the initiative to experiment with working hours in an effort to help employees achieve a better work-life balance.
Normally Design, a London-based company employs staff to work a four-day week, despite paying them as though they worked five. The days remain the traditional eight-hours long. Director of the company, Marei Wollersberger says “[s]ome of the superheroes of our time, they are the guys who say, ‘I work 90 hours, 100 hours, 120 hours… People read those figures and they say, ‘That’s what’s going to make me successful, I’m going to do the same,’… but that’s not true.”
Wollersberger credits her four-day week as being key to the company’s success due to employees working more efficiently due to having less time to complete their tasks. If employees are seen to be working outside of business hours, managers even go as far as to check if there is anything wrong.
Likeminded companies have similarly reduced their working-hour week, opting to follow the Swedish-style six hour days. Although such companies have consequently admitted that they found it difficult to meet client’s needs, Normally Design employee Basil Safwat says that he has only had to stay late a couple of times in two years at the company.
“There’s a social encouragement to make sure you use that fifth day for yourself and not to do work… You’re not going to get Brownie points for replying to emails on the fifth day.”
“We’ve seen people wait their whole life for the big moment when they retire and then have the luxury to do all of the things you really want to do and fulfil your dreams… But we’ve seen in a few cases that never happens, as you get ill or you’re older by then… Maybe we can just flip that around. Maybe we can take that time and move it forward and give it back to ourselves and our employees,” Ms Wollersberger explains.
Not only could reduced working hours mean more time to spend on hobbies and self-love, it could also reduce mental health problems as mental health charity, Mind says that there is a correlation between poor work-life balance and poor mental health in the workplace. Stress – which is often caused by work – can leave employees de-motivated and unable to concentrate, having a detrimental impact on productivity.
Gemma Godfrey, chief executive of investment management company, Moola says that the solution lies in caring for employees’ overall wellbeing, not simply cutting their hours.
“How are we looking after them? Are we also looking at lifestyle benefits, harnessing modern technology to be able to offer greater flexibility as well as making sure we deliver? That’s what’s going to drive profits and the economy.”
What are your thoughts, do you think that the traditional working week should be reduced?