Daylight Savings Time – Myths, Realities and Impacts

I’ve been playing with Spring Forward Monday as a proposal to take some time and celebrate employee involvement and to ask for ideas to improve organizational performance and productivity. You can find more about that idea here:

Spring Forward Monday Square Wheels toolkit logo

And I had read a good bit about the day, but not really known much. Here is what I found out, much to my surprise.

I was thinking that it was an American phenomenon and that it occurred only in the US, proposed by Ben Franklin or Franklin D. Roosevelt or someone a long time ago.

The modern idea was actually first proposed in 1895 by an English-born New Zealander. It was first implemented by Germany and Austria-Hungary on April 30, 1916.  Many countries have used it at different times and it has been more consistently implemented since the energy crises of the 1970s, according to Wikipedia.

It is currently used worldwide (see graph from wikipedia below). A few countries have gone to permanent DST, such as Argentina, Iceland and Russia. It simply changes the times of sunrise and sunset, but that is really for early risers.

Colors are northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere DST countries
Colors are northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere DST countries

When implemented, clocks are moved ahead one hour sometime in the Spring and moved back in the fall so that there is more apparent daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings.  A study in Indiana, which has been in and out of the system, found that it actually raised electricity bills significantly when implemented…

On the other hand, it benefits sports and retail sales but makes the July 4th fireworks shows occur later for the little kids!

With the cellphone and automatic clock issues, many of the old clock resetting problems have gone away. It is estimated, however, that time lost to setting clocks in the US is about $1 billion and estimates are that the loss of sleep causes $450 million in health problems.

Setting clocks ahead means that workers are actually arriving at work an hour earlier than they had the previous week. That clock-shifted biological time does have impacts, just like you would see if you were working an hour earlier that day (duh!). The “nine to five” workday is actually “eight to four.”

This is a modern day, industrial issue, for the most part. Ancient societies were much more attuned to the actual sunrise and sunset and agricultural societies remain tied to the sun and not the time.

The truth about Ben Franklin is also interesting. Franklin is known for publishing the old English proverb, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” During his time as an American envoy to France, he anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.This 1784 satire also proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. Franklin did not propose Daylight Savings Time but he was known for tweeking a few cheeks now and again!

You can read a lot more about Daylight Savings Time at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time and there are a number of research reports that analyze various economic impacts.

It is not always a great day, but it is an opportunity to choose to do something differently:

Square Wheels One Daylight Savings haiku Will Spring

If you are looking for a tool to use with your people to better involve and engage them, we have a very special price on a special toolkit designed for this day. For $5.95, you can rock and roll! Click on the image below to find out more:

Spring Forward Monday Square Wheels toolkit

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

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