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Six-hour days extremely popular with HR professionals

Academic Cary Cooper explains the drawbacks of working a traditional eight-hour day

Every HR professional (100%) in a recent survey would consider introducing a six-hour work day, according to research from www.workplacerelocations.co.uk.

Nearly one in five (17%) HR professionals in the study said they would definitely consider introducing a shorter working day, while 83% of those polled said they would possibly consider it. When it comes to business leaders, only 60% said they would consider implementing such a policy.

When employees were asked for their opinions, 28% said a shorter working day would improve relationships with family, 16% admitted they would take fewer sick days, and only 12% thought they would be less productive.

Cary Cooper, 50th anniversary professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester’s Business School, told HR magazine that working a traditional eight-hour day comes with several health and wellbeing risks.

“It is interesting to see so many employees and senior managers considering the notion of a 30-hour week,” he said. “It is certainly the case that the long working hours culture we have in the UK is a risk factor to stress-related illnesses, and could be a negative contributor to our low levels of productivity per capita.

“Another alternative would be to encourage more flexible working, which would enable people to balance their lives better. The Britain at Work report found that only 32% of employers provided a flexible option, with the take-up rate probably significantly lower. At least this survey provides us with an opportunity to explore the 30-hour week as a quality of work-life issue, or perhaps other options to enable better balance and prevent burnout.”

Barry Koolen, regional managing director at Crown Workplace Relocations, said that some employers have already implemented a six-hour working day, with many reporting positive results including improved employee focus and productivity, such as organisations based in Sweden. “Historically the British eight-hour working day was created to encourage a work/life balance, and these findings suggest we may soon see a new cultural shift towards a six-hour working day,” he added.