Try Shortening Your Working Hours to Boost Productivity

by Lois Leonard

2 min read

The digital age has dramatically changed the way some employers think about productivity. However, like many hard-working Canadian business owners, you may feel like you’re falling down on the job unless you and your employees work 40 hours or more per week. If you feel exhausted as the weekend approaches and notice employee productivity waning, consider shortening the number of hours you and your employees work each day.

Output vs. Hours

Working long hours daily doesn’t necessarily mean you and your workforce are being more productive. After a while, your employees may start calling in sick more often due to exhaustion or burnout, or they may leave their jobs altogether. With careful planning, you can reverse this trend by implementing a shorter-hours policy that measures output rather than hours to determine success. For example, if you run a graphic design firm, you might gauge your designers’ productivity by how many projects they complete daily rather than how many hours they spent at their workstations. As productivity increases, you won’t have to worry about reducing pay, even though you and your staff might be working fewer hours.

Knowing When to Close Up Shop

Your business many not need to be open for as many hours as you might think, unless your business needs to be open long hours, such as a corner store or a gasbar. Getting your clients on board with your shorter work day could be as simple as posting your new hours of operation on the front door. If your business doesn’t take walk-in clients or customers, you can also schedule a shorter workday around the hours your clients are available to work with you; this approach may work well if you run a small company and have just a few employees. Overall, offering your employees a shorter workday reduces stress and lets them to focus and stay engaged in their work. As the boss, you benefit too, since you get to go home and unwind early.

Using Software to Reduce Work Hours

You can use software and apps to automate many tasks that may keep you and your employees tied to the office. For example, entering your client or customer information into a cloud accounting software service lets you automate billing and accounts receivable tasks; such software can even help focus your email marketing campaigns. You can use software and apps to simplify team collaboration on projects and streamline social media marketing tasks. A job tracking app can help your employees track time and reduces the amount of time you spend approving timesheets and processing payroll.

Getting Started

The significant upside to reduced working hours is higher morale, which increases productivity and employee retention. Happier employees typically are more creative and supportive of your mission and goals. Start on the road to shorter workdays by cutting out nonessential activities, such as meetings to share information that could have been shared just as easily via email. If you want to reduce your business’s work hours drastically, you might consider reducing or eliminating the lunch hour. Eliminating unnecessary activities frees you and your staff to focus on productivity.

References & Resources

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