Almost Half of Employees Worldwide Think They Could Do Their Job in Five Hours or Less Each Day

And this country may be leading the way.

Photo Credit: IR_Stone/Getty Images

By Meredith Lepore

The case is getting stronger for a shorter workweek. According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight nations conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, 78% of full-time workers say it would take less than seven hours each day to do their job if they could work straight with no interruptions and 45% said their job should take less than five hours per day to complete.

This falls in line with a study that was conducted earlier this year at a company in New Zealand. They tested out a four-day work week for two months on their 240 employees and found that they reported greater productivity, as well as work-life balance and they experienced less stress.

Countries that want a 4-day workweek the most

The appeal of a 4-day workweek and therefore a 3-day weekend is very strong. The survey from Kronos found that if their pay remained constant, 34% of global workers say their ideal workweek would last four days, while 20% said they would work three days a week. However, 35% of workers would take a 20% pay cut to work one day less per week.

Canadians led the way with wanting the 4-day workweek the most at 59% followed by Australia at 47% and the U.S. at 40%. The Brits (26%) actually think a 3-day workweek would be ideal.

However, even though the demand is there for the shorter week, many of the employees surveyed admitted to needing overtime to do their work. Even though 75% of full-time employees globally say that they have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks, nearly 37% work more than 40 hours each week and 71% claim work interferes with their personal lives.

Still working overtime

Australians and Brits, even though both of these groups very much want a shorter work week, felt strongly that they do not have enough time in the day to get the job done. This could be because they don’t work as many hours as the U.S., which leads the way with overtime – 49% report more than 40 hours each week, followed by India at 44%, Mexico at 40%, and Germany at 38%.

A lot of the problem is time wasters at work which is causing them to not be able to get all their work done in an average workday. “Fixing a problem not caused by me” (22%) and administrative work (17%) were the top two answers given by full-time employees when asked what they waste the most time on at work. Meetings (12%), email (11%), and customer issues (11%) round out the top five time-wasters.

As for which countries find that they waste the most time on administrative work Mexico comes in first at 31% followed by Canada at 19%. The U.S. (29%), U.K. (28%), and Australia reportedly waste the most time cleaning up after others.

Flexible work options are the key

But the solution of just cutting the week down is perhaps a little too simple, according to the authors of the study.

Dan Schawbel, research director of Future Workplace and author of Back to Human said, “Employees are working harder than ever and at the cost of their personal lives. This study confirms that we can all be more efficient with our workday, that there’s an opportunity to remove administrative tasks in exchange for more impactful ones and that the traditional workweek isn’t relevant in today’s business world. Employees need more flexibility with how, when and where they work, and leaders should be supportive of an employees personal life, not just their professional one. When employees get time to rest, they become more productive, creative and are healthier, so they take fewer sick days.”

According to FlexJobs’ 7th annual workplace survey of more than 3,100 respondents, 65% of workers think they would be more productive working from home than working in a traditional office environment. Fewer distractions (75%), fewer interruptions from colleagues (74%), reduced stress from commuting (71%), and minimal office politics (65%) are the top reasons people prefer their home office. It is estimated that only 60% (or less) of work time is actually spent productively.

The survey did find that one in four global employees (28%) are happy with the standard five-day workweek.

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