11 de julho de 2022

Less working hours and more productivity

###Crédito: Pixabay

Two and half years ago, we had many questions about how we would live through the pandemic – one related to working from home. For intellectual professionals like us, the challenge of remote work was unprecedented. Indeed, many professionals bet that it would not work at all. But this discussion today is an old story. Working from home has proven it is effective and, for many companies, increased productivity– either because of meetings with a set duration or by reducing commuting time. But what was the cost of this change? Many times, the excess of activities led to burnout.

Notably, this two-year period was intense, and there’s a lot of learnings about how we are going forward after that. In my case, I have concluded that the hybrid model can be the best format — I focus better at home, can keep some face-to-face meetings with clients, and spare some time to maintain the necessary social life.

But I believe we have learned other lessons from the pandemic. Our health was threatened, and the stress knocking at our doors gave us a second thought not only on the best working format but also the certainty that balancing our personal and professional lives is healthy and necessary. After all, being with family and friends and in a playful, joyful environment makes us relax and recharge our energies.

A study by Boston College’s economist Juliet Schor evaluated a four-day work experiment (32 hours a week) at five paydays at US, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand companies. After six months of follow-up, there was a drastic reduction in resignation requests (there were plenty before due to emotional exhaustion), sick days, more satisfied clients, and employees feeling happier and more productive.

Reducing the hourly load does not mean decreasing productivity – on the contrary. Professionals found new forms of organization with fewer meetings, less time for scrolling social networks, and fewer absences for medical appointments– now scheduled for their “day off.”

In Europe – Germany, France, UK, Italy, Denmark, and Norway – governments have already subsidized the fifth working day. Change is moving slower in the US, though, where requests for resignation caused by stress reached a record.

We are far from the stage of developed countries, but we must change some old habits that no longer fit, such as allowing excessive working hours and not setting a time limit for managing emails and other messages. A survey by FleishmanHillard Brazil with workers proved the professionals’ satisfaction in working at the agency. It was a good sign, showing that we carry all the work with the proper lightness it deserves. After all, we spend most of our lives working. But we need more free time to get even more satisfaction from working and bringing new and creative ideas to our customers.

Moreover, no one should consider the time spent watching TV, working out, traveling, and knowing new cultures as non-working hours. Experience life outside the working environment guarantees us more knowledge to be better professionals. We may not yet be mature enough to embrace the four-day work week, but we are ready to have fulfilling weekends to avoid the blues of watching Sunday evening TV shows. And let Monday come!


— Fernandes has 15 years of experience in newsrooms of printed outlets and other 15 years in Corporate Communication. Her experience in communication agencies involves serving clients in private and public industries, both in PR and in Digital and Business Intelligence. She has led large teams and has extensive experience in crisis management. Fernandes has a degree in Social Communication from PUC-SP.

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