30-hour workweek: Production stays high, life gets better

There is an old saying, “Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.”

There is an old saying, “Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.”

It seems counterintuitive to slow down to go faster but it can be seen in many examples.

During a recent NASCAR event, a contender for the championship was running low on fuel and on older tires. The driver was willing to slow down and give up several spots on the racetrack in order to finish the race.

He still had to finish at a certain spot, but his ability to slow when needed allowed him to stay in the championship hunt.

Building on the zero day concept of taking time off to rest and recharge, we can apply this to business in how we approach the workday.

The 40-hour workweek is partly rooted to when Henry Ford, in 1914, scaled back his 48-hour week to 40 because he believed that too many hours were bad for worker productivity. With the strengthening of labor unions during the later industrial revolution, adoption of our traditional workweek was mostly arbitrary, though based partially on the success of Ford.

Fast forward to today and we are beginning to see a rethinking of the 40-hour week. In Europe, this is increasingly the case, where 30-hour workweeks with six-hour workdays becoming more common.

The United States is slow to adopt this practice, but a few larger employers are beginning to look at the prospect of shorter workweeks.

Amazon recently launched a program where technical teams work 30-hour weeks. They receive full benefits, but only 75 percent of a 40-hour worker’s pay.

The goal is to promote a healthier work-life balance and promote employees to foster their own interests and skills outside of work, which in turn can benefit the company through increased productivity and innovation.

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