Less Time At the Office May Not Make You Happier

In 2004, South Korea instituted a five-day work week. Prior, it wasn’t uncommon for workers to spend more than sixty hours a week at their job. After the change, most workers went down to forty-one to fifty hours, and the change afforded researchers the opportunity to study how reduced time at the office impacted happiness.

According to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, working fewer hours at the office didn’t improve workers job or life satisfaction. The author, Robert Rudolf, analysed data from the annual Korean Labour and Income Panel Study from the years 1998 to 2008. He found that workers felt better about the hours they were working, but that’s it—there was no improvement in happiness anywhere else.

In terms of what’s keeping workers unhappy, there are a few possible culprits. Workers may be working harder while at work, or they may be taking less time off. Alternatively, if you’re a knowledge worker, you can’t really leave the office if your office comes with an always-on cell phone.

Photo courtesy of Floris M. Oosterveld

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