A FAMILY business will be cutting its working hours in a bid to see if employees are more productive.

Century Office in Brunel Way, Colchester, will be taking part in the experiment in collaboration with Essex University.

The office furniture supplier will be shortening the working day down to six and a half hours - an hour and a half less a day than usual.

They expect employees will become more focussed and productive, less anxious and less tired.

The two-part trial will commence with normal working hours and participants will be monitored on their productivity and wellbeing.

Participants will also be issued with a fit-bit which will record sleep patterns, heart rates and physical activity.

The second part of the trial will focus on the revised working hours with the same level of monitoring.

Both halves of the trial will last for six weeks and colleagues will be paid the same.

Sarah Bays, director at Century Office, said: “We have members of our team with varying home lives and personal situations. They each have different needs and priorities and as employers we need to try and accommodate this to ensure harmony and maximise productivity.

“They say you get out what you put in, and I strongly believe that when it comes to our team.

“If we can be flexible and adapt to their specific needs, we should.

“It is not always possible but where we can it is a worthwhile investment and it breeds loyalty and commitment.”

Dr Valerie Gladwell, a senior lecturer in the School of Sports, Rehabilitation and Exercise Science, and her colleagues at the university have been asked to evaluate the findings.


She said: “We are hoping to show not only their mental and physical health improves but also the work-life balance of employees is also enhanced.

“Our interviews with employees will enable us to explore at a deeper level how it is affecting employees’ lives.”

Results of the experiment will be published in the summer.

If the shorter hours do improve wellbeing, there is a chance they will be implemented all the time although this has not yet been confirmed.

A similar two year experiment took place across Sweden, with employees working six hour days on full pay.

During the first 18 months of the trial nurses working shorter hours logged less sick leave, reported better perceived health and boosted their productivity by organising 85 per cent more activities for their patients.