Countries that have shorter working days are more productive as a whole, recent studies have revealed. Or in other words, shorter working hours make us better, and more productive workers.
We'll give you a moment to leave this article open, in full view of your boss...
Company Expert Market compared GDP (gross domestic product) data and found that ten of the countries with the highest GDP also make the shortest working hours list, proving the much discussed theory that lessening your weekly workload will actually make you more productive in the long run.
The countries that directly correlated included the likes of Norway, Denmark and Sweden — as if we needed any proof that the Scandinavians have work/life goals pretty much wrapped up — together with other larger countries like the United States and Australia.
Unsurprisingly (especially for those reading this that are eating al desko because you simply don't have the luxury of a lunch break) the UK didn't rank at all in the top ten, placing us at a paltry 16 on the world list over all.
It's estimated that more than 6 million of us in Britain work more than 45 hours a week, and with many top healthcare professionals agreeing that reduced working time will help to reduce stress, these new findings only emphasise the fact that the UK has a lot to work on in order to make its workforce happier.
Helen Russell, British journalist and bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly – Uncovering The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, offered some insight into the differences between working in Denmark after moving there from the UK in 2013.
'The Danish work-life balance and clocking off on time came as a shock when I arrived not-so-fresh from London life and started working here,' Helen admitted.
'While the official working week is 37 hours in Denmark, a recent survey showed that the average Dane only works 33 hours. Naturally at first I presumed that this made Danes massive slackers (apologies, Vikings) – but then I discovered that workers are 12% more productive when they’re in a positive state of mind, that Denmark has one of the happiest workforces in the world, and as a result Denmark is the second most productive country in the EU.'
She goes on to explain that the Danes prioritise happiness in the workplace, and that 'staying late is more likely to earn you a lecture on inefficiency and time management than a pat on the back'.
So if this is to be believed, then we should all start living a bit more Danishly in order to be better employees. Small steps can be taken each day to make your work life a little easier. Things such as making lists to prioritise certain tasks throughout the day, and making sure you leave your desk for ten minutes over lunch to get a breath of fresh air can all contribute to a more positive day.
And, obviously, leaving the office on time is paramount. If you've done the important things, the rest can wait for tomorrow.
Do you think working less hours is the formula for a more productive and happier workforce? Let us know your thoughts...