Reduced Work Hours Benefit The Environment
It may seem counter intuitive – how can less time spent at work increase productivity and output? The answer is simple. When workers have a better work-life balance, they tend to feel less stressed, are happier overall, have a boosted morale and increased willingness to commit to work standards.
The Shorter Work Week
An experiment conducted by a New Zealand firm resulted in an unmitigated success when they implemented their four-day work week. Employees at the firm were only working four full days a week but were still being paid for five. This experiment resulted with 78% of the employees feeling like they had a better balance between work and home life, a 24% increase from before the experiment.
This is an important result as it emphasizes the fact that reduced work hours boost employee productivity as well as overall happiness levels. Findings from a research in Sweden also supports higher employee happiness levels because happier employees tend to take less sick leave and therefore increases output levels overall.
Unequal distribution of work opportunities may also be mitigated by a reduction in work time hours: Less time spent at the office can reduce the number of employees working overtime and increase part time employment which will then decrease unemployment levels overall. And when unemployment levels are low, the standard of living increases for many people.
Now how does all this relate to the environment? While reduced work hours does not directly result in a better environment, it does, however, increase the likelihood of people caring for it more. When people spend less time at work, they have more time to care about the things they previously did not have time for. It is extremely difficult for individuals to care about things such as the environment, poverty alleviation or wildlife protection policies when they are spending the majority of their time trying to make ends meet. More free time will allow workers to enjoy better green spaces, create stronger social connections, maintain mental health and engage in creative and purposeful activities. All of which will lead people to care more about their surroundings.
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