Is a 10-hour workday too long?
While some people may happily trade off a slightly longer workday in exchange for more time off, not everyone has the stamina to endure longer work hours. But is a 10-hour shift too long? Researchers have looked into it — but don’t necessarily agree.
In 2022, researchers published a study in the State and Government Review that examined the effects of a 4/10 workweek pilot on public sector workers. The final results indicated that, if given the option, 73% of employees would continue working 10-hour shifts in exchange for an extra day off. However, job satisfaction — which was higher-than-average before the pilot — remained consistent. This suggests that workplace culture and leadership are important factors when it comes to successfully implementing a 4/10 workweek.
So how, exactly, does working 2 extra hours impact the rest of your day? According to one study of government employees working 4/10 schedules in the Philippines, subjects slept an average of 20 minutes less for each 10-hour shift worked. They also spent 30 fewer minutes preparing for work in the morning, and 1 hour less on household chores. However, the tradeoffs might be worth it — a different study of workers in the Philippines determined that a 4/10 workweek reduced job stress, ultimately improving work-life balance and productivity.
Conversely, shifts longer than 10 hours could have adverse effects on employee health. In a large general population study of workers in France, researchers found that working more than 10 daily hours for more than 10 years may greatly increase the risk of stroke. That makes a strong case for avoiding late nights and overtime when working 4/10.
Another factor to consider is whether or not employees have enough time to rest before returning to work. In a 10-year study of hospital workers, researchers found that working shifts longer than 12 hours, and having less than 12 hours off between shifts, greatly increased the likelihood of occupational accidents.
The takeaway? When implementing a 4/10 work schedule, it’s crucial to avoid overtime whenever possible, as it may harm employee health. Additionally, prioritize rest between shifts, especially a good night’s sleep.