The traditional 8-hour workday has been around for 200 years. Isn’t it time to go to a new system? Read here why I think working 8 hours a day is too much.
Around the world, workdays are around eight hours long. We go into the office 5 days per week, meaning the workload is around 840 hours. In the Netherlands, you get around 5 weeks of holidays on top of that (which can vary depending on your employer).
That’s the pattern. Day in and day out. Every week. The entire year-round.
Since when did this start? The industrial revolution – you know, that revolution that took place over 200 years ago.
I would say A LOT has changed over the last 200 years. But that stayed the same. How odd!
That makes me wonder: is it just something we continue to do because we’ve always done it like that? Are we so used to it that we think we can’t do our work in less time?
Many people realize that the way we work nowadays is a little outdated. People who think that working 8 hours a day is too much.
In today’s age of internet, innovation, and increasing productivity – we’re finally starting to question how great that eight-hour workday actually is.
Why Do We Work 8 Hours A Day?
Well, basically, the eight-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution. About 200 years ago. The eight-hour workday was actually to cut down the hours people were forced to work in the factory. This was a great breakthrough 200 years ago that hasn’t changed even a little since.
In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act is implemented. In this act, we established minimum wage, overtime pay, and more rights for child labor.
Why Working 8 Hours A Day Is Too Much
So why exactly is an 8 hour work day too much? Why don’t you need to work 8 hours a day?
You Might Not Need 8 Hours For Your Job
The first thing that comes to mind is whether you need 8 hours for every job?
In my opinion, and experience, the 8-hour workday leads to a whole lot of wasted time.
Going to the coffee machine, meetings, more coffee because of the meetings, and a lot of emails.
The truth is, many positions don’t need an employee’s full attention for 8 full hours every day.
Really, when was the last time that you worked a full 8 hours?
I mean, without any Facebook, cute cat videos, or talking with your colleagues for extended periods of time.
In my former project, I had many colleagues who worked more than 8 hours every day. Correction: they were at work for more than 8 hours every day.
I had colleagues tell me there was nothing more for them to do, at 2 pm on a Tuesday.
Or I talked with colleagues and asked if I could help them with anything, and they told me that there don’t have too many things to do.
This results in employees that are getting bored and are less excited about their job. Besides that, employers are paying for empty hours – probably not always knowing they’re doing that.
This is still an old system of exchanging time for money. We are at work for 8 hours and we get paid for those 8 hours. We have 40 hours in our contract and we need to be in the office for 40 hours.
A better alternative?
Exchange value for money.
Many people are finished with their job in less than 40 hours, so why force people who are good at what they do to stick to a schedule that doesn’t make sense?
It might be a great way to allow people to get promotions, be more satisfied with work, or get a raise.
Is An 8-Hour Work Day Productive?
According Ohio University, the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes each 8-hour workday. The remaining time is spent reading news website (1 hour), checking social media (45 minutes), discussing non-work related topics (40 minutes), or even searching for new jobs (26 minutes).
That last one really got me..
Does that mean that people are happy on the job? Well I think you can say no.
“The 8-hour workday would be perfect if we would have machines switching on at 9 am and switching off at 5 pm. In my experience, it’s not effective.”, states professional tutor and consultant from PapersOwl. “Those students of mine who tried to push themselves to follow an 8-hour working (studying) day principle and concentrate all the studying they have within 8 hours, as a result, faced exhaustion, lack of motivation, and sometimes even depression.”
While some employers would love that, it doesn’t take advantage of the natural flow that you have throughout the day.
Generally, people are most productive and creative in time blocks that spread out over the entire day.
Between these blocks of productivity and creativity, rest and downtime is a must.
I mean, I need my nap after lunch.
Our brain just can’t focus for 8 hours straight, without breaks in between.
People perform best when they have 10-20 minute breaks every hour they work.
The structure of the 8 hour workday at this moment isn’t designed for this.
Also, different people work better at different times. I know people who work better in the early morning hours, while others would rather sit down to work in the afternoon, or people who send emails late into the night and are true night owls.
Personally, I do my best work in the mornings between 7 am – 11 am and just before dinner from 4 pm – 7 pm.
It’s All About Options
Just like with Financial Independence and Retire Early, it’s all about the options.
You’re sleeping 8 hours per night, you’re working 8 hours, that leaves 8 hours for getting the rest of your life together. This also includes time winding down from work, time getting ready for work, and your commute to work.
It leaves on 6 hours per day for relaxing, your hobbies, friends, exercising, chores and family. Well, that’s a lot less than I would ideally spend on those activities.
This way of living can be very unsatisfying.
Times are changing, fortunately. Slowly but surely.
Companies that want to stick to the 8 hour workday should be careful. They might lose their greatest talent and workers to companies that will allow for flexibility in any way, shape, or form.
Employees are starting to realize that there is a better way of living for them than the 8 hour workday. With the rise of side hustles and small businesses, more and more people are seeing the benefits and flexibility of working for themselves.
How Many Hours Should You Work A Day?
There are recent experiments done in Sweden where they are testing a six-hour workday. This resulted in a 20% increase in happiness, a 64% increase in productivity, and a 50% decrease in sick leave. Employees reported higher energy levels, not only at work but also at home.
Hallelujah! That’s what we want right?
For now, 6 hours working in a day seems to be ideal.
Enough time at work to be productive.
Enough time at home to enjoy life.
Do What Fits You Best
The 8 hour workday is outdated, unproductive, and restricts your options. It’s not the most efficient way to work, as much time is wasted.
Times are changing.
Employees and employers are embracing a new way of working.
Employers need to realize that a new way of working is going to take over and they should prepare.
Employees need to realize that they can choose whether the traditional 8-hour workday is for them or not.
There are so many other options to the traditional 8-hour workday. You can run your own business, determine your own hours, and instantly get more freedom.
Do you think working 8 hours a day is too much?
This article was originally published and syndicated by Radical FIRE.
Marjolein is a financial consultant who has built over €4,000 monthly passive income and saves over 70% of her income. Read Radicals’ inspiring story, from stuck in the 9-to-5 to loving life. Feel free to send Radical a message at the bottom of this page