Under the Hood

Working Only One Day Each Week Cuts Mental Health Risks By 30%

Working five days a week can drain your energy and cut your connection to society. Yes, being too busy in the office can lead to lower interest in socializing. 

The pressure and stress also add to the problem, which may affect the mental health of employees. With the long work hours and other factors combined, is it still necessary to force people to spend an average of eight hours per day working? 

A new study gives us a new reason to promote a shorter work week. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Salford found the potential right "dosage" of work to maintain the well-being of employees.

The findings, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, showed that the people who worked for eight hours or less every week have reduced risk of mental health problems by an average of 30 percent.

"We have effective dosage guides for everything from vitamin C to hours of sleep in order to help us feel better, but this is the first time the question has been asked of paid work," Brendan Burchell, study co-author and a sociologist from Cambridge University, said in a statement. "We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment - and it's not that much at all."

Burchell and his team suggested that people should work only around one day a week because it is the "effective dose" to maintain mental wellness. Working longer than the suggested time showed little effects on people. 

The findings come from the analysis of how working hours affected mental health and life satisfaction of more than 70,000 people in the United Kingdom. Researchers gathered data between 2009 and 2018. 

To achieve the shorter work week, the team suggested that companies utilize emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data and robotics, to support employees in some tasks. 

"If there is not enough for everybody who wants to work full-time, we will have to rethink current norms,” Daiga Kamerāde, study first author from Salford University, said. “This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks."

Other ideas presented in the study to support limited work hours include the "five-day weekends" approach, working just a couple of hours a day, or increasing annual holiday from weeks to months.

Employees Working for just a few hours every week has been found effective to cut risks of mental health problems by 30 percent. Pixabay