For businesses of all kinds, the issue of Daylight Saving Time (DST) has become something of a hot topic. Originally created as a means of increasing productivity and efficiency for businesses and factories, critics say it has strayed from its original goal and may actually be harming some industries. However, businesses that rely on accurate timekeeping to run and maintain operations broadly support the time-saving measure.
With the help of a leading business adviser, we’ll weigh up the positives and negatives of Daylight Saving Time, and ask whether or not it’s good for those running businesses or bad for all involved.
The case against Daylight Saving Time
“There seems to be very few reasons to maintain the outdated habit of changing the clocks,” says Mike Smith of Business Expert. Indeed, the original applications for Daylight Saving Time may not be of any value to businesses today. For those companies that do require accurate timekeeping, Daylight Saving Time can pose problems. Any errors that are made when adjusting a company’s clocks can result in a loss of revenue for the company due to improperly-filled time sheets and other technical oversights. A network time clock can overcome these difficulties by ensuring that only one clock needs to be switched over, but manual changes should be readjusted carefully to avoid errors.
Mike also notes that “unifying with Europe would improve communications and align London with Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. We would also have more crossover with Beijing, Tokyo and other major markets in Asia.”
When the clocks go back in the autumn, consumers tend to scale back their time in physical stores and head online. Retail businesses and other similar organisations suffer from this resulting loss of footfall. In addition, with clocks going back, electricity and gas consumption increases. Since these businesses and stores open and close in the dark – and having harsher weather conditions to contend with, it’s easy to see why energy usage spikes during these darker months.
And what of the workforce; how are they affected by Daylight Saving Time? The lost hour of sleep in spring can have a dramatic effect on employees’ productivity in the US, problems with sleep deprivation have drastic effects on productivity, costing the economy $411 billion in losses each year. As a result, there’s little chance for increases in sales and business, but a marked opportunity for employees to indulge in ‘cyberloafing’; where those at work waste time surfing the net or working below par. As for the tiredness everyone will be feeling – people simply don’t tend to get as much done when they’re less alert, and the possibility of workplace accidents could increase because of a lack of shut-eye.
The case for Daylight Saving Time?
“The Tourism Alliance suggests lighter and longer evenings could boost our tourism industry by £3.5bn annually, due to businesses staying open longer,” says Mike. During the spring and summer months, people stay outside for longer, allowing businesses more time to attract paying customers. British Gas reports that the majority of businesses and retailers report increased profits during Daylight Saving Time, along with reduced costs in energy since there is less need for artificial light; smaller heating bills and cheaper electricity prices are also common. Additionally, another advantage of Daylight Saving Time is the reduction of crime rates. Since most crimes are committed after dark, it’s less likely that criminals will have as much chance to strike.
Even non-retail businesses can benefit from more daylight. Mike says: “Within the UK, farmers, postal workers and the construction industry are all supporters of lighter mornings.” These sectors all tend to have early starts, long before others in 9-5 office jobs are even awake. More daylight in the morning would allow businesses such as these to better carry out their duties.
“Vocal support for keeping summertime also comes from The Football Association, The Lawn Tennis Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board” Mike notes, “athletes can train longer, and theoretically there’ll be more people in attendance at events.
In closing: is daylight saving time good or bad for business?
If Daylight Saving Time was to be abolished, we’d have to get up earlier in the summer to make use of the extra daylight, something supporters say is easily achievable. While that may be true, a call to wake earlier may not be so popular. On the other hand, there’s an undeniable psychological boost when the clocks change in spring, an intangible feeling of the wintry gloom having finally lifted. After trudging through the dark mornings and poor weather, a clock change is a more-than-welcome switch for both tired individuals and the businesses they work for.
And, there is an opportunity to frame things in a different way. Isn’t it better to view Daylight Saving Time as taking that hour in the morning – where people aren’t particularly productive – and shifting it to later in the day, where employees can make use of the time to get more done, whether it’s in work or at home?
Likewise, another uptick of Daylight Saving Time that can prove advantageous is to plan aspects of business around the changes in time. For example, furniture and homeware businesses often look to highlight products that serve to combat the darker days and colder weather. Seasonal businesses capitalising on the clock change often increase their sales for this reason.
Since Daylight Saving Time won’t be changing for the foreseeable future, the best option for businesses is to simply face the change as best as they can and plan accordingly, whether it’s getting more sleep or building your sales around the peaks and troughs it can throw your way.