Finding Balance at Work

Being more productive at work is a concern at any age.  As we get older and more experienced most of us learn the tricks of our trade and can optimize our tasks at home and at work in less time. Time is money they say, but more importantly it has a priceless value on the quality of our lives.  When faced with the option of working a three- or four-day work week, which would you choose?

People over the age of 40 performed at their most productive levels when they didn’t work more than three days a week.

“This indicates that the differences in working hours is an important factor for maintaining cognitive functioning in middle and older adults,” the researchers said in the study. “In other words, in the middle and older age, working part-time could be effective in maintaining cognitive ability… Our study highlights that too much work can have adverse effects on cognitive functioning.”(1)

By Wednesday of most work weeks, we are all just counting down to the weekend. That weekend generally is consumed with a day of chores and maybe a day to rest, relax or a bit of fun.

If given a choice, most people would choose less work days.  But why are more and more employers giving this choice?  Because study after study has shown that the quantity of hours spent does not increase the quality.  Studies have also shown that this extra day off during the week also allows for employees to schedule medical or other important appointments on that day. It was found that shorter or more flexible workdays increased employee loyalty and reduced turn over. It also decreased absenteeism and lateness all while actually improving productivity.

Many employees are still hesitating to take this option. Many feel if they can accomplish a five day work week in less days will they be bombarded with more work or less pay.

People are living longer, so our workforce is aging and staying at work at older ages.  The financial need requires many to keep working but focused and more productive time spent at work allow more down time.

“Time-management wise, working five days are not effective work days.  Apparently, a recent study by economic researchers published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series, agrees about shorter work weeks; in particular about people over 40 years of age (a.k.a people right below the “typical” retirement age). The study claims that 25 hours of work per week –– roughly a three-day work week –– is the optimal amount of time those 40 and over should work. Which means that your 40-hour workweek just turned into a four day weekend.” (2)

It’s about balance and creating a work environment that fosters creativity and task completion versus a punch clock mentality.  Perception often becomes reality and an open line of communication needs to be present in the workplace for any change to be successful.