5-day vs 6-day week: Which is More Productive & Healthy?
On May 1, 1926, Henry Ford’s automobile company, Ford Motor, became one of the first American companies to introduce a five-day, 40-hour work week. While this was criticised a lot in the beginning, as time passed, it proved to be a brilliant technique to boost productivity.
It’s been 90 years since then, yet a lot of Indian companies still follow the 6-day work week schedule. But why? Can a 6-day work week be more productive than a 5-day week?
Traditionally, it is believed that a 5-day work week is more productive. A 6-day work week stresses people out and doesn’t give them enough time to spend with their families. But the debate between a 5-day week and a 6-day work week has no right answers. It depends on a lot of other factors like fixed vs. variable hours, recreation and child care facilities available at work, the option to work from home, etc.
Imagine a 5-day week that demands you work for 8-10 hours a day. Added to that, there are no recreation facilities and working from home is a strict no. Such a work atmosphere can only lead to stress and less productivity. Employees eagerly wait for Friday so they can enjoy the weekend and, every Monday, they end up feeling blue. So work only happens between Tuesday and Thursday. The week seems too long and the weekend seems too short. There is an imbalance with five days of stress and two days of recreation.
Now imagine a 6-day week where you work only for 6-7 hours a day. Plus, you get to work from home occasionally and your office has a small gym, a beautiful cafeteria and a mini library. Since you leave work early, you get enough time to spend with the family and friends. There is a better balance in harmony between your personal and professional life.
Sweden has recently introduced a 6-hour work day and is experimenting to see if it boosts productivity and health. (Source) But a lot of experts in the US feel that 6 hours a day would not work for their country. “Instead of an 8-hour work day, if you work really hard for 6 hours, are you a better employee than the one who spends the rest two hours surfing Facebook and Amazon? How do you guarantee that employees will work hard for 6 hours?” argues one of them.
Whether it is a 5-day week or a 6-day week, the goal must be to balance work and provide enough time and space for family and recreation. Organizations can experiment based on the types of challenges their employees face and what hinders them from being productive. Based on these experiments, one can arrive at the optimum number of days/hours.