A German Company Shifted to a 5-Hour Workday and We Want In

While working parents wish we could spend less hours in the office and more time with our kids, the question still stands: Can less hours correlate to higher productivity? According to a German tech consulting firm, the answer is “yes!”

The company, Rheingans Digital Enabler, reduced daily hours from eight to five, while keeping salaries and vacation time the same, as profiled by the Wall Street Journal. This policy was implemented based on research that shows workers are only productive for four to five hours during a full workday.

When employees worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., they cut down on small talk, long meetings and cell phone use while company email inboxes were only permitted to be checked twice. While this obviously isn’t viable for all companies, similarly to how remote positions don’t always fit, the reduced day sure worked for this firm.

The study found that workers produced the same amount of output in the five hours versus the full workday, while being able to spend more time with their families or on other activities outside of work.

The owner of the firm was inspired to implement the changes based on his own experience in a previous position of taking off two afternoons a week to spend time with his kids. He found he was just as productive, despite being paid less.

Though the study isn’t a be-all end-all by any means, it provides interesting data on productivity and workplace best practices. In terms of hiring, five-hour workdays might be a big incentive to attract working parents or others with caregiving responsibilities.

As companies become more flexible and more inclusive to diverse bodies of employees, we’re hoping changes like these come to the U.S. ASAP.