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The '40 Hours a Week or Less' Theory Gains Momentum
 

Some start-ups are offering employees a 40-hour work week as a perk of the job. So, what are the benefits to working less?

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Some entrepreneurs wear an 80-hour work week as a badge of honor. Others are proud to be called a “workaholic." And it goes without saying, entrepreneurs typically expect their employees to burn the midnight oil right there alongside them.

But get this: a recent Businessweek article reported that a few start-ups have started touting a 40-hour work week policy as a perk of employment with their company. Why? According to the report (worth a full read), some small companies are seeing a big picture benefits in terms of employee health and overtime costs.

These few companies aren't the only advocates for cutting back the number of hours spent at the office.

Inc.’s Geoffrey James recently highlighted the work habits of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg (known for leaving the office at 5:30 every day) and stressed that working more than 40-hours a week is useless.

The workaholics (and their profoundly misguided management) may think they're accomplishing more than the less fanatical worker, but in every case that I've personally observed, the long hours result in work that must be scrapped or redone,” said James. 

Recent research out of Denmark has shown that a 25-hour work week can be as effective as a 40-hour week. According to the post:

A 25-hour work week will allow younger people to spend more time with their children, take better care of their health (which will help raise average life expectancy), and improve their over-all quality of life, while for the older population--many of whom have more time on their hands than they know what to do with--work can serve as both a psychological and physical outlet. 

In a recent interview, Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, explained why people feel compelled to stay at the office beyond the point of productivity and have a hard time with this concept that working less is better--guilt. 

“Guilt that you're not working hard enough. Guilt that you're being lazy. Guilt that you're not paying your dues. I'm all for hard work when it's applied to the right things. But only when it's applied to the right things,” said Ferriss.

IMAGE: jorgeq82/Flickr
Last updated: Oct 10, 2013

ABIGAIL TRACY is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.
@abigailtracy




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