What Would Happen If You Worked Only 8 Hours a Week?

What Would Occur If You Labored Solely 8 Hours a Week?


Pexels / Polina Zimmerman

Supply: Pexels / Polina Zimmerman

In the beginning of this month, greater than 3,300 staff in 70 UK firms started a six-month trial of a four-day working week. Its intention is to show that you may lower stress, and enhance well-being, with out affecting productiveness.

However on the subject of wellness, work stress, and conversations about working hours, I’m usually reminded of a examine that concluded that we solely have to work for eight hours per week.

Sure, you learn that proper.

The 2019 examine, printed in Social Science & Medication, discovered that working simply eight hours per week was sufficient to achieve the well-being advantages of employment and that happiness and well-being didn’t enhance alongside hours. Merely put, individuals working eight hours per week felt as joyful as these working a full week and felt that their contributions to society had been simply as significant.1

And but, in most nations within the developed world, the prevailing tradition is that it’s essential to work the usual 40 hours (or extra) so as to really feel joyful, glad together with your life, and (on the finish of the week) left with the sensation that you’re in some way making that worthwhile contribution.

The examine was large. It used information from the UK Family Longitudinal Examine, which held info on greater than 80,000 individuals. The researchers checked out how adjustments within the variety of hours individuals labored affected psychological well being over time and requested at what level an individual’s well-being improved. Principally, after that eight-hour shift, well-being plateaued, and dealing extra didn’t enhance it by any important quantity.

“It’s like taking Vitamin C,” stated lead writer and sociologist Daiga Kamerade, “all of us want a sure dose, however taking it greater than mandatory doesn’t deliver any extra well being advantages, and taking overly massive quantities can even have a dangerous impact.”

The authors argued that with the proliferation of know-how, such brief working hours will not be solely attainable however mandatory. And earlier than you scoff on the concept, you may need to contemplate the British economist John Maynard Keynes who, in 1929, predicted that staff of the longer term would solely work 15 hours per week due to the advances in stated know-how. And 22 years in the past, MIT biophysicist and theoretical ecologist Erik Rauch predicted that due to technological enhancements, a employee at present would solely have to work 11 hours per week to get as a lot finished as 40 hours in 1950.

Which begs the query: The place did all of it go flawed?

Notions of a 40-hour week are as entrenched as they ever had been. Detractors of the four-day working week research are legion. And but, any notions of what number of hours we’re “supposed” to be working will not be solely an anachronism but additionally a throwback to the nineteenth century, no much less.

The eight-hour day or 40-hour week was a social motion preventing to get away from the excesses and abuses that staff of the time had been topic to. Though the eight-hour day started in Sixteenth-century Spain, the trendy motion dates to the Industrial Revolution (the place the working day might vary from 10 to 16 hours).

In 1817, Welsh textile producer and philanthropist Robert Owen coined the slogan “eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours relaxation,” as a backlash in opposition to working patterns designed to maintain factories going day and evening. And so, the notion of a 40-hour working week was born. And we’ve been caught with it ever since.

In actual fact, many individuals the world over are working for much longer than that, which is why work stress is the primary explanation for employees absenteeism. A lot for that predicted technological liberation.

However again to the four-day working week. The pilot, working for six months, has been organised by the 4 Day Week World in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Marketing campaign, along with researchers at Cambridge College, Oxford College, and Boston School.

The trial relies on a 100:80:100 mannequin, which signifies that staff will obtain 100% of pay for 80 p.c of the time, in alternate for sustaining 100% productiveness.

Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston School and lead researcher on the pilot (which rolls out quickly in Spain and Scotland), described it as a historic trial. “We’ll be analysing how staff reply to having an additional day without work, by way of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, well being, sleep, power use, journey, and plenty of different elements of life,” she stated.

Work stress and office well-being are areas of curiosity for me, so I look ahead to the outcomes of the pilot. Within the meantime, I’m taking an extended, onerous have a look at my working hours: Do I need to work for 2 hours a day, for 4 days of the week, or in two four-hour shifts, twice per week, or do I need to get every little thing finished in simply the sooner or later and have six days to do no matter I please?

If solely.


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