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Researchers said we'd only need to work 15 hours/week. What happened?

Opting for flexible working hours

Instead of asking how many hours to work, smart businesses consider what the best hours are for their team to be working. Flexibility in working hours allows employees to choose working hours that suit their mental peaks and their lifestyle.

According to research, most people are only productive for 4-5 hours a day. With flexibility, you can create daily schedules that work for you. Research shows that employees working flexible hours show greater job satisfaction and commitment to their companies.

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Researchers said we'd only need to work 15 hours/week. What happened?

Researchers said we'd only need to work 15 hours/week. What happened?

https://blog.rescuetime.com/how-many-hours-should-we-work/

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

Past predictions about the average working hours

Nearly a century ago, British economist John Keynes predicted this generation would only work 15 hours a week.

In 1890, workers worked an average of 60 hours per week. By 1890, the average working hours dropped to 37. However, by the 1970s, the downward trend of working hours had turned around, and today, American workers average 47 work hours in a week.

The rise in the average working hours: contributing factors

The rise in average working hours a week can be related to three serious issues:

  • We celebrate "being busy."
  • We worry about losing our jobs in the current economic climate.
  • We use devices that make us always on.

The rise of knowledge work has led to jobs with less structure, more demands, and higher pressure to be productive.

Overworking leads to decreased productivity

Studies show that working more hours increases productivity up a point; after that, the law of diminishing returns sets in. That point is around 49 hours per week.

Research shows overworked employees have an increased risk of fatigue, general poor health, and cardiovascular disease. Another study showed that managers couldn't tell which employees worked 80 hours per week and who just pretended to.

Opting for shorter working hours

Working shorter hours, such as the 4-day work week or the 6-hour workday, is not always the solution, since it could only work for certain industries.

A six-hour workday would be effective for industries such as hospitals but less effective where the borders between work and private life are blurred.

Opting for flexible working hours

Instead of asking how many hours to work, smart businesses consider what the best hours are for their team to be working. Flexibility in working hours allows employees to choose working hours that suit their mental peaks and their lifestyle.

According to research, most people are only productive for 4-5 hours a day. With flexibility, you can create daily schedules that work for you. Research shows that employees working flexible hours show greater job satisfaction and commitment to their companies.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Early times

Before the Industrial revolution, everyone worked out of their home and sold their goods from there. With the Industrial Revolution came the need for automation and factories, and employ...

From factories to cubicles to WiFi

Just after WW2, there was a rise in corporate headquarters and larger office spaces and cubicles. During this time, the 8-hour workday was established.

Then came the advancements in computers and technology that lead to remote workers of today. The internet and public WiFi allowed employees to do everything they would in their cubicle, but outside the office. They can also work all hours of the day.

Remote work is common

4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time, and this figure has grown by 150% in the last 13 years.  

Remote workers tend to have higher engagement rates and higher productivity levels. Once they switch to remote work, they rarely want to become office bound again.

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The Right Amount Of Work

The World Health Organization(WHO) recently recognized the symptoms of workplace burnout, with too much work wreaking havoc on our mental health, all across the world.

Surprisingly, not work...

Eight Hours A Week

An extensive study shows that just eight hours a week is enough for the average worker to generate significant mental health and well-being benefits.


Working between one to eight hours per week resulted in decreased risk of mental health issues, especially among people recently unemployed.


Working has some intangible benefits, called psychological vitamins, like social contact, structured routine, shared goals, enforced activity, variety and a sense of identity. Spending more time at work does not lead to an increase in the benefits.

Our culture of work

Our culture claims that work is unavoidable and natural. The idea that the world can be freed from work, wholly or in part, has been suppressed for as long as capitalism has existed.

Exploring the abolition of work
  • In 1885, socialist William Morris proposed that in the factories of the future, employees should work only four hours a day.
  • In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that advances in technology would lead to an age of leisure where people might work 15 hours a week.
  • Since the early 2010s, these ideas have been developed further, creating a growing critique of work as an ideology, and exploring alternatives to work.
  • Post-work offers enormous promises: In a life of much less work, life would be calmer, more equal, more communal, more pleasurable, more thoughtful, more politically engaged, more fulfilled.
Work ideology

The work ideology is not natural nor very old.

  • Before the modern era, all cultures thought of work as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  • Once the modern work ethic was established, working patterns started to shift. Between 1800 and 1900, the average working week shrank from 80 hours to 60 hours, and in the 1970s to roughly 40 hours.
  • In 1979, Bernard Lefkowitz related in his book that people who had given up their jobs reported feelings of "wholeness." During the same period, because wages were high enough, it became possible for most people to work less.
  • During the 80s, work ideology was reimposed by aggressively pro-business governments who were motivated by a desire for social control.
  • By the early 21st century, the work culture seems inescapable.

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    The 2 kinds of work :
    • Deep work”: using your skills to create something of value. It takes thought, energy, time and concentration.
    • Shallow work”: all the little administrative and logist...
    Cal Newport
    Cal Newport

    "The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. "

    Cal Newport on time management
  • Don’t schedule distractions. Schedule deep work.
  • Keep a scoreboard for deep work: The point is to shame yourself if you’re not up to snuff.
  • Stop saying “yes” to unimportant stuff;
  • Have a “Deep Work Ritual”: Hiding in a conference room and throwing your phone into an abyss is a good one.
  • Ask your boss how much time they want you spending on deep vs shallow work: If they say “100% shallow”, feel free to ignore everything above.