COVID-19 forces many companies into short-time working. According to the figures, there are currently more than 10 million employees. Often employees work about 30hours or less.

Since 1930, many experts have been thinking about whether a 40-hour week really makes sense. Even then, it was already stated that prosperity is strongly linked to the use of machines (Industrial Revolution). Due to the advancing technology, a greatly shortened working time is sufficient to ensure a comfortable living for everyone. According to the teachings of Bergmann (NewWork), free time could be used to do good, to provide volunteers or to care for oneself through a garden, etc. The credo is: happiness and joie de vivre instead of nervous irritability and fatigue.

Study on working time

Currently, the majority in Germany works too much. We assume a normal 40h week. I have the figures from the Federal Statistical Office. More than 2,000 employees were interviewed. The bottom line is that about one in two people work too much.

Working time per week of employees in Germany (n=2000)

A further survey by Xing on the future of work shows that out of about 2000 employees who work 40 hours, more than half of the respondents would like to reduce working hours. So there seems to be a strong urge to do less work in private.

Even since COVID-19 many contacts in my field environment tell me that you can actually do your job very well and that you can even enjoy having more free time at the moment. All the contacts interviewed had no children and were able to rush to leisure after work. Especially contacts with children were more inclined to extend short-time work in order to still have free time after raising children.

Optimize unnecessary working time

Productivity often runs according to Parkinson’s law. You do 80% of the work in 20% of the time or every work expands exactly as time is available for doing it. I think we spend 50% of our time in meetings and answer fairly meaningless mail chains.

Through sensible software and new processes, we have optimized for me in the Processes and Meetings department in such a way that the speed has increased massively through more self-organization and individual decisions and we suddenly felt 1/3 more time. It is therefore possible and is largely related to the optimization of time-eaters and, above all, to the often tough management decisions.

Incidentally, a study by Asana found that we spend as much as 60 per cent of our working time on coordination tasks. Only 27 percent remain for the work for which we were actually trained and hired. For strategy and planning even only 13 percent (source T3N). So there is a lot of room for optimizing working time optimization.

Not possible everywhere

Ultimately, it depends on the type of employment. I think it’s easier in office jobs and big companies. I think nurses and staff on nursing wards have to work 40 hours. Because where a nurse only works 20 hours, a second one is necessary. But that is not what this article is about.

Important: It’s not about everyone going part-time and hiring more people, but that by automating and optimizing time-eaters, we reduce little meaningful work and create more time for creative work.

The study by Asana (source T3N) also shows that only 46 percent of employees really understand, goals and accurate implementation of your work. Just as little (43%) know the company’s goals. Also, 70% think that their direct manager does not understand what to do. It is therefore an important management task to optimize efficiency and work completion.

The amount of work is decreasing

According to various sources, the work is expected to decline rapidly in the next few years. I noticed it back in 2015 when hordes of management consultants simulated work in large corporations every day. Numerous sites such as “Crazy Management Consultants” or “Consulting Humor” on Instagram also have a funny debate about this.

Bad news has been piling up lately. Deutsche Bank wants to cut 18,000 jobs and is not alone. Siemens plans to cut 10,000, 7,000 at Volkswagen, 5,400 at Ford, 4,500 at Bayer, 4,000 at Thyssenkrupp and also cable giant Leoni plans to cut 2,000 jobs. On the other hand, however, we also have good news. Volkswagen wants to create 2,000 new jobs at the same time, Siemens also wants to create around 2,500 new jobs, and Thyssenkrupp also wants to create 1,000 new jobs.

You notice that there is a shift in the jobs from Analog to Digitaljobs. Reducing working time can be a means of maintaining full employment. It can prevent us from simply processing orders and creatively working on solutions. I often notice that customers send me half-finished concepts under perfect stress and are hardly receptive to creative solutions, as they are absolutely reworked.

Conclusion

In addition to the fact that home office is possible, COVID-19 has also shown us that less working time does not have to lead to less performance. An important factor is the optimization of processes and the focus on meaningful work. It remains exciting whether companies want to try this out more and more.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/strand-familie-spa%C3%9F-leisure-ocean-1867271/

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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