In the age of the unprecedented worldwide pandemic, we were forced to rethink all the things we took for granted. Our values and our priorities, our leisure time, and most importantly, the way we work.
No wonder that the classic 8-hour workday MO, which was once a socialist dream, today seems redundant, to say the least. With more and more people switching to remote work, people are now realizing the 8-hour may have been a counterproductive lie.
So the TikToker AutisticCommProf, @ndcommlion, has recently made an illuminating video explaining how the “8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will” slogan from the late 1800s labor movement is a false promise.
When put into our everyday practice, it destroys our work-life balance, leaving us exhausted and unproductive. Let’s see her whole point right below, and share what you think in the comment section!
Image credits: ndcommlion
In a video, she referred to this tweet from the Twitter user Jarrel, confirming that this in fact is very true
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@ndcommlion#greenscreen #capitalismsucks #capitalism #worklife #worklifebalance #fightfor15 #eattherich #generalstrikeoct15 #generalstrike♬ original sound – AutisticCommProf
Image credits: ndcommlion
The 8-hour-long workday is one of the enduring legacies of the First Industrial Revolution. With the advent of manufacturing firms and industries that required hard labor, productivity was usually measured in linear terms. The workers worked for 8 hours a day producing the units of output that got calculated.
This was also a much better solution than the standard 12- or 14-hour days factory workers, including children, had worked before. Over the next 100 years, labor unions of various industries in the US adopted the eight-hour standard. Moreover, Henry Ford brought the idea further into the mainstream in 1926 by mandating a five-day, 40-hour workweek in his company’s factories. In 1940, Congress officially set the American workweek at 40 hours. The same work week we have today, in 2021.
Image credits: ndcommlion
No wonder the 8-hour workday received a huge backlash during the pandemic, which, over the past year, has forced millions of office workers to set up shop from home. The call for shorter hours followed with people pointing to the fact that the 8-hour-long workday is not only unproductive, but it destroys work-life balance and sucks up all the remaining energy meant for leisure activities and resting.
A growing body of research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something. The productivity consultant Alex Pang believes that “there are periods when you can push past that, but the reality is that most of us have about that [amount of] good work time in us every day.”
It turns out, the current 8-8-8 structure comes from the labor movement in the early 19th ct. which aimed at improving work and life balance at the time
Image credits: Wikimedia.Common
Bored Panda reached out to David Andrew Wiebe, a best-selling author, entrepreneur and musician who shared some very interesting insights on the 8-hour workday standard and why it is redundant. “Apparently it has its origins in 16th-century Spain, but like most things that have become routine or habit, the eight-hour workday has been perpetuated through the education system. And, the modern education system was mostly formed around producing factory workers,” David said.
“On average, workers are only productive for about three hours a day,” he said and added that “There may be reasons for this beyond obvious human limitations, such as unnecessary distractions in the workplace, but studies also show top-performing executives and entrepreneurs didn’t fare much better (they may be able to squeeze another 25 to 30 minutes of productive time out of their day!).”
The new model seemed like a much better structure than the 12- or 14-hour days factory workers, including children, were expected to put in at the time
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Moreover, “The idea that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ is also prevalent, suggesting that staying sedentary for long hours diminishes our willpower, energy, and ability to focus. Again, those who have standing desks don’t fare much better, because they still aren’t getting the movement their body needs. If you have a physical labor job, that’s a different story.”
David also pointed out that obesity is a growing problem, and it has a lot more to do with food consumption, which can be connected to stress levels. “When we’re tired, exhausted, or even frustrated, we tend to reach for unhealthy food,” he said and added that higher levels of performance are possible, but sitting at a desk for longer hours is not the answer. “Breaking up the day with exercise and meditation can help in creating second winds,” David explained.
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Many have adapted to working from home and have discovered new routines for themselves. “For some, this has proved a blessing. For others, not so much,” he said and added that “the pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we think about a lot of things. It’s only natural that we’d begin to re-examine areas of our lives that weren’t working before.”
Because of that, choice holds more significance than ever, David argues. “We can choose eight-hour workdays. We can choose four-hour workdays, And if we want, we can choose 12-hour workdays,” he explained and added that although part of this choice should be informed by performance, another important factor is what you want out of life. “And depending on aspirations or ambitions, we might choose to create something outside of our day jobs, requiring more of our time and energy,” David concluded.