Any of us have ever uttered the mantra "there's not enough time in the day!" at least once in our lives. In the modern corporate culture, it can seem as if work and leisure are constantly at odds. With Americans working more hours, taking fewer vacation days, and rarely disconnecting from their devices, it begs the question: What would life be like if we worked less?
Many of us believe that success is measured by how hard you labor – and how long. As humans, we are driven by fear to overwork for fear of missing out or being left behind. We have conditioned ourselves to push through the traditional nine-to-five, follow all lines of protocol, and sacrifice family time in search of that ever-elusive promotion. But that doesn't mean there is no hope for better balance.
In fact, many businesses are now beginning to push back against this culture of overworking by promoting innovative work schedules. Now more than ever, growing companies are embracing a four-day workweek schedule to increase employee productivity as well as satisfaction and recruitment. This new model lets staff return home earlier every day and provides them with more time to devote to their family, hobbies, or simply self-care.
The idea of reducing hours does not come without skeptics. Employers fear that these shorter workweeks will lead to lower productivity and greater costs. The irony is that the opposite may actually be true. Several studies conducted on four-day workweeks found marked increases in employee productivity and job satisfaction when compared to traditional five-day models.
Research has shown that working long hours (more than 48 hours a week) impairs cognitive performance. When employees are overworked, it leads to exhaustion both mentally and physically making it difficult to stay alert and responsive during the workday – thus leading to dips in performance. Decreasing those hours can produce an energized and productive workforce ready to hit the ground running without sacrificing their break time.
Living and working in an environment where everyone takes it upon themselves to take their paid vacation time opens up avenues for higher productivity, allowing companies to develop more meaningful relationships with their employees. Workspaces also become a more open, compassionate place where travel plans, creative ideas, and time off gets respected rather than frowned upon.
The bottom line is that living a balanced life helps foster employee engagement and leads to better work–life harmony. Maybe less truly is more! There may be skeptics who will fight to hold onto tradition, but life would absolutely feel better if we worked less – especially if we use those extra hours to recharge and take care of ourselves in meaningful ways. Dreams could no longer be so easily deferred after all! Its high time to strike the balance between leisure and professional life so one can truly enjoy a fulfilled life.