The eight hour work week that has become standard in the developed world is a result of the industrial revolution and the efforts of unions for reasonable working conditions (without unions who knows how long the workday would be!). Today the long workday doesn’t seem to be justified though. In Sweden a municipal government experimented with a six hour workday and, for the most part, it worked out fine. Inspired by that experiment Swedish companies have been trying the six hour workday and have noticed no decrease in productivity – meaning you can have two more hours to living and it won’t negatively impact your employer.
“Our staff gets time to rest and do things that make them happier in life,” says CEO Maria Brath. “For example, cook good food, spend time with family and friends, exercise. This, then, is profitable for the company, because the staff arrives at work happy and rested and ready to work.”
As in most jobs, employees there likely wouldn’t work for a full eight hours even if they were in the office longer. “Our work is a lot about problem solving and creativity, and we don’t think that can be done efficiently for more than six hours,” she says. “So we produce as much as—or maybe even more than—our competitors do in their eight-hour days.”
When opening an office a key thing to take into consideration is where people are going to work. In these modern times just letting employees sit on the floor won’t cut it. Buying furniture can be expensive and add a lot to startup costs, so an enterprising company has taken to selling used furniture.
When companies upgrade their offices they just throw out their old furniture -8.5 million tonnes of it went into the trash last year! There’s money to be had in saving that furniture from landfills, and that’s where reusing office furniture becomes profitable.
“In Canada and the United States, the purchase of new office furniture is in the realm of a $10-billion-a-year industry, so the amount of churn is exceptional, and for the most part it’s always been considered a waste stream,” said Richard Beaumont, vice-president of strategic accounts at Green Standards. “Through resale, metal recycling and charitable donations we, on average, divert just under 99 per cent from landfills by weight.”
A more efficient work week comes from rest, relaxation, and working less. We’ve looked at the idea that a more relaxed approach to work makes things better for everybody before (maybe to the point where I sound anti-work). Now there are more arguments for a shorter work week that are worth looking at.
For one, it can help keep people employed as more automation occurs across all sectors. And another reason is that it can save money and the environment by reducing the time spent commuting and running an office.
It’s happened before. For example, in 2007 Utah redefined the working week for state employees, with extended hours Monday to Thursday meaning it could eliminate Fridays entirely. In its first 10 months, the move saved the state at least $1.8 million in energy costs. Fewer working days meant less office lighting, less air conditioning and less time spent running computers and other equipment — all without even reducing the total number of hours worked.
For one day a week, thousands of commuters were able to stay at home. If the reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions from travel were included, the state estimated a saving of more than 12,000 tons of CO2 each year.
We are often told that the key to success is all in working hard, but that isn’t the case according to new studies. Hard work may get only so far. So instead of sweating bullets at your work, try to find what your good at and apply yourself there. It turns out that people who hire favour those who are perceived to be “naturals” instead of those who just work hard.
Why is this good news? Well, just relax a little and focus more on your own time instead of giving all of your limited time on this Earth to the company you work at.
“We may risk overlooking highly qualified candidates who possess various valued achievements, in favor of apparent ‘naturals’ who may actually be weaker,” Tsay tells Co.Design. “By recognizing our implicit preference for naturals, we can become better equipped to identify and hire the people who actually possess the achievements we value and who are more likely to help us attain greater success in the long run.”
Whether or not the naturalness bias holds true outside the lab, and just how it might vary based on an evaluator’s own distinct personality traits, is unclear. And of course its potential employment impact breaks both ways. Knowing that experienced professionals tend to side with innate talent, for instance, suggests it might be advantageous to flash some natural skills during investor pitches or job interviews, instead of focusing on dedication.
Workplaces aren’t associated with fun, but there are certain designs of places that can make places more enjoyable. It turns out that buildings designed with sustainability in mind tend to be a better, more productive place to work. You should convince your boss that you should move to a green building.
Until that happens here’s a solution that you can put into action rather quickly:
3. A PLANT OR A VIEW OF NATURE WILL IMPROVE YOUR WORK
Windows also help by providing views–something that’s especially helpful if you’re looking at nature. Looking at trees or a park is proven to make employees less frustrated, more patient, healthier, and more focused on work. Indoor plants, too, help make people more efficient and better able to concentrate. If you don’t have a view or a plant, even pictures of nature can help.