Rethinking the 8-Hour Work Day

When it comes to productivity at work, one might think that the eight-hours a day, five-days-a-week schedule is pretty standard. After all, the majority of us in the workforce endure this modern schedule that no one has questioned – until now.
Eight-hour workdays started during the Industrial Revolution as a labor rights movement to curb the exploitation of manual laborers who were often working 12-14 hour days. The concept took over 70 years to catch on at an institutional level, and in 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which limited the workweek to 40 hours. If companies wanted more hours out of employees, they had to pay overtime.
At the time, the eight-hour workday made a lot of sense due to the number of workers. It protected the workers in blue-collar jobs, however, it doesn’t accurately reflect the labor landscape today.
Work from Home (WFH)
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were forced to send employees home to work. This introduced home working to many employees and businesses, and has made many business owners realize that remote working is entirely possible. What’s more, there are more jobs that can be performed remotely, and many people are gravitating toward careers that allow for greater flexibility when it comes to work location and hours. Having a more flexible and versatile workplace is proving possible in today’s working environment.
Quality vs. Quantity
Many employers measure the worth of an employee more by the number of hours they work rather than the quality of work they produce. Research found that many employees were able to complete the same amount of work in six hours rather than eight and that the quality of work produced didn’t suffer. If we focus on creating good quality work, we may find that employees work more efficiently and save more time for the company overall when working from home.
Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm – otherwise known as the body’s internal clock – is largely affected by the sun’s cycle. Our body clock affects our sleep schedule, mood, appetite, productivity, and stress levels. As such, it’s realistic to expect our work performance to be consistent throughout the day. Humans are not robots, and we all have downtime, those afternoon sluggish feelings, and surges of energy throughout the day. Employers should want to optimize the working day to suit employees’ circadian rhythms, whether that means moving meetings from 3 pm to 11 am or allowing flexible start and finish times.
Whatever your schedule, be sure to incorporate more time for your health and wellness. To get started on obtaining your health and fitness goals, contact Genesis Performance. We will help you fit in exercise and wellness practices into your current schedule and inspire you to reach optimal health. We help clients across the nation virtually, so even if you’re self-isolating during this time, we are here for you.

Jenna Dillon

Founder & CEO

Jenna is an Executive Coach committed to working with high performing individuals and companies who are up to exploring what they’re capable of achieving within their lives, careers, company culture and leadership. She is passionate about empowering her clients - standing with them and for them - so they have the tools to create extraordinary results.