We’re tyring the 6 hour work day at our film and animation studio

So a 6 hour work day, what’s that all about then? There are a few things we all do in life even though we have no idea why we do them. And one of them is working 8 hours a day from 9 to 5. How about a 6 hour work day instead?

The 3pm slump

Although I’d like to think our Curveball team is incredibly creative, bright and passionate, I wouldn’t say that’s still the case after 3:30PM on a 9 to 5 day. This is something we all agree on: our brains seem to leave the building. This is not something you want in a creative company. We need those brains working on film and animation projects (in a non zombie-like way). Check out our film ‘can zombies run’.

One of our core values at Curveball is to be restless and to always try to push the boundaries to see what works. And with all of the news about a 6 hour work day becoming more common in Denmark, Sweden and even the UK, it got us thinking.

Research suggests that longer hours don’t mean people are more productive. In fact, it would mean the exact opposite. According to another research, work burn out can actually affect our brain functions:

“In subjects suffering from chronic occupational stress, the functional couplings within the emotion- and stress-processing limbic networks seem to be altered, and associated with a reduced ability to down-regulate the response to emotional stress.”

This would mean that working very hard for a long time is better left for when it’s needed, not for every day.

Our conclusion

The more we thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. When we’re only doing a 6 hour work day, people would be more well rested and have more time for personal life. Also, it would give us a bigger feeling of control over our own day. All good things, really.

Our biggest worry was that we would have to fit 7.5 hours of work into 6 and we didn’t feel like we had that much time to spare. However, we realised we could turn this around and use this as a chance to learn how to plan our time better and be more efficient. Also, nothing stops us from staying in longer when we feel we need to.

Why not?

We decided it couldn’t hurt to try a 6 hour work day on the basis that people who are more well rested and in control are more creative and productive. And like Cinderella leaving the ball before the clock strikes midnight, we’d finish work before we had a chance to hit the slump.

We always strive to keep the team happy and, in this case, we found it would benefit both team and clients. So we decided that for the whole month of April we would give this our best shot. It’s only a trial but, I must admit, although we started a few days ago we already think it’s going to work.

A little bit of structure

6 hour work timetable

We’ve put together a timetable where people can put in the times they’ve worked each day

We needed to figure out the small details and come up with a structure to make this work. Here’s how we’re doing it:

  • We still need to have people in the office from 9 to 5, so we’ll work in shifts. We can come in from 8am to 11am and leave 6 hours after that (in a perfect 6 hour work day that is)
  • This gives people a chance to have whatever kind of lunchtime they prefer. Some of our animators are more than happy to eat while they work. And some people like to take a 1 hour long lunch. As long as we work the 6 hours, we can have lunch at our own pace. For example, we can come in for 3 hours, have a 1 hour lunch and come back for 3 more.
  • Everyone’s pay is still the same because the amount of work produced is still the same.
  • We all have our own allocated time slot. If we’re usually in at 11:00 (oh, yes!) we need to make sure it’s consistent, to keep our studio trafficker, Hannah, from going crazy. However, this can be moved around as long as it’s communicated in advance.
  • We’re expected to do a 6 hour work day, but if we don’t want to let go of our usual work pace and style, have a deadline or just feel like staying, nothing stops us from doing so. And when we’re out on a shoot, the six hour day goes flying out of the window.

So far…

I’ve asked the team how they feel about the experiment so far and here’s what they said:

Tom:

Once you get past the guilt of leaving early, the freedom is brilliant!!

Tara:

It will be nice to do more of my own stuff, after work. I feel guilty leaving so soon and feel that I need to do more work. But my time management feels better. :)

IMG_0097

Martin approves

Martin:

It’ll be more difficult, but the reward of more time off will be great, as it’ll give me more time to work on my own personal projects. A number of times I’ve found myself stay an hour late. Still, I think it’s just one of those things we’ll all get used to after the first week or so.

Dan:

At this stage the positives are already obvious – the team appear to be more relaxed and the fact that people are coming and going at different times creates a different type of vibrancy in the office. The hardest thing is that I’m a strong believer in practising what you preach and I haven’t, as yet, had the opportunity to work a 6 hour work day.

Olly:

It’s lovely to see staff embracing it and this will become ever more valuable as summer approaches. Only time will tell.

Lauren:

It works for me, as I’m not always in the mood to write at set times. Plus I can work during quieter times in the office if I need to get my head down, with less disruptions. So far enjoying it – feels weird (e.g. I came in at 10:45 today because it was raining this morning and I couldn’t be a*sed to get wet feet, so had a leisurely morning at home then mooched in later).

Hannah: 

I feel it might be harder as everyone is in and out of the office at unusual times and it is more difficult to plan around that. I also feel from my point of view I need to be in earlier to give people feedback and later to send things to clients but if we can work a shorter day every now and then it will be really nice to have the extra free time. I’m getting used to the idea…

Jack:

It’s alright… (this doesn’t sound like much, but if you know Jack, you’ll know this means he is ridiculously excited)

Marina:

Personally, I’m loving it! I come in at 11 which gives me plenty of time to relax in the morning. Interestingly, I’ve found myself planning my workday while having a nice breakfast and thinking about a project while I walk into work and when I get to the office I just want to hit the ground running.

So, as much as I’d like to write more about this, I’m sure you’ll understand I need to get on with work. But do stay tuned for our conclusion at the end of the month.

We’ll also be making a short documentary about it so we have a visual account of how we feel before, during and after. Also, our adjusting process has generated some pretty funny moments already that I wish were being filmed.

Please also see our updated blog on how the 6 hour working day is going.

by Marina Brunale

Comments to "We’re trying a 6 hour work day this month"

  1. Giedre

    April 8, 2016

    What a great experiment to have in the office! There is so much guilt though. Guys, there is time to work, and there is time to relax. Set the boundaries, and simply switch yourself off after the work. Relaxed mind brings more productive work ;) Good luck! Will be looking forward to the conclusion at the end of the month :) Maybe we can try it in our office as well :)

    • Team Curveball

      April 13, 2016

      Thank you Giedre, it has been very interesting so far. I think the guilt is slowly going away which is good! Let us know if you do try it. It’ll be a revolution :)

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