9-to-5 | Burnout coach slams 8hr workday

Burnout coach slams 8hr workday

The dramatic shift to the way in which professionals work over the past 12 months is a testament to the agility and flexibility of the modern business world. Companies have overcome challenges presented by the pandemic, financial volatility and swiftly shifting customer habits.

Some of these changes, such as the move to remote working, were brought about only by pure necessity, despite years of data evidencing just how effective such a policy could be to both worker wellbeing and productivity. Yet for whatever reason, be it logistics or simply a hesitancy to go against decades-old habits, it took a global pandemic to finally push the last stalwarts of a traditional office presence to reconsider.

However, as we look to 2021, and the potential to continue this march of progress, some are debating whether the next logical step is to do away with the concept of the 9-to-5 workday.

Why is this gaining traction?

To put it simply, the length of the working day is almost entirely arbitrary and pre-dates the kind of powerful analytics that we currently use to make key decisions in the rest of the working world. So, it stands to reason that at some point, the working day should too be properly analysed for optimisation.

And for those who have already studied the structure of working life, the standard format of the working day seems to make little sense. Cal Newport, Analyst and author of Deep Work, a book specifically dedicated to reinventing working life believes that the amount of time spent dedicated to work should be reduced by up to half. He told Fast Company: “Three to four hours of continuous, undisturbed deep work each day is all it takes to see a transformational change in our productivity and our lives.”

Additionally, it seems that most people are not actually working for most of the day; the Rescuetime State of work report noted that modern workers are only truly productive for a maximum of two hours and 50 minutes a day.

Similarly, those trying to soldier on beyond this time find that the quality of their work, and their happiness, drops. According to research from Stanford University, output and creativity sharply decline after 50 hours of working in a week. And it only gets worse the more you work. In fact, people who work a 70-hour workweek are likely to produce nothing during those 15 to 20 extra hours.

In fact, University of Utah research found that attention spans begin to decay significantly after 20 minutes, while most people require a break every 50 to 90 minutes. This is because brains go through something called ultradian rhythms every 90 minutes after which, we workers need to take a break.

So, it seems that all evidence is pointing toward the working day being not only outdated, but also actively ineffective at propelling professionals to work efficiently. Do you believe it will change in the near future? Let us know in the comments…

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Comments (1)

  • Simon Elvin
    Simon Elvin
    Tue, 15 Dec 2020 1:25pm GMT
    Without doubt, the world of work needs to adapt to the communication-age in which we live. However, we need to keep looking at what 'optimisation' means when balancing our work and the other parts of our lives, especially now that so many are working from home, blurring the boundaries between the two. Flexibility can be a great plus, but we need to model workable alternatives to the 9-5. Perhaps most significantly, people still need to connect with each other, so maybe something that blends the best of both worlds is what we should aim for: independence and flexibility with human connection which, sometimes at least, needs to be in person.

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