The pandemic has forced a reassessment of the work-life balance for many, and a story in Wired chimes in by making the case for a five-hour workday. The idea is that the traditional eight-hour day at the office is filled with wasted time and that a more concentrated stretch—with, say, no lunch and limited breaks—makes more sense. It might even be a better option than four eight-hour days, writes Margaret Taylor. "Research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something," says Alex Pang, author of a number of books on productivity. "There are periods when you can push past that, but the reality is that most of us have about that good work time in us every day." The story looks at the real-world examples of US ecommerce company Tower Paddle Boards and the German firm Digital Enabler.
Both instituted five-hour days in recent years with success, but also with some drawbacks. Some employees felt a more concentrated workday made things more stressful and left. However, the experiment was generally working until the pandemic upended things yet again. Employees working from home and minding kids found they couldn't work five straight hours, and both companies had to make modifications. Expect more of the same in the general workplace, writes Jack Kelly at Forbes. "Remote, hybrid, flexible staggered hours, job sharing, four-day workweeks, five-hour days, hot desks (people sharing the same desk on a rotating schedule) and other initiatives are being tried out by companies to enhance employee happiness and retain talent." It's all for the better, adds Kelly, because it will give people more control over their lives. (Read more work stories.)