Newsflash, boss: The days of the traditional 8-hour work day are numbered. It’s as outdated as the 8-track.
Today, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of worker’s rights crusaders the world over -- and a little something called the Fair Labor Standards Act -- the average American working stiff logs about 8.7 hours a day on the clock. If you think that’s too long, imagine how rough our ancestors had it during the Industrial Revolution. Back then, workers, often as young as 10 years old, toiled in sweltering factories for up to 16 hours at a time, six days a week. Many across the globe still do and then some.
Thankfully the days of sweatshop labor in the U.S. are largely behind us, and the vast majority of us are resigned to working in standard eight-hour shifts. That is, ideally with one short break after a few hours and a brief meal period ( depending on your state’s labor laws, your office culture and your propensity for workaholism). But, with the rise of telecommuting and other increasingly common alternative work arrangements, along with more and more people juggling multiple jobs, many are questioning if toiling in 8-hour stints is the really best way to work in the 21st century.
After all, working long hours, which many of us do voluntarily without interruption (heck, we don’t even take earned vacation time anymore) has been shown to cause fatigue, strain personal relationships and increase mistakes and accidents. And, here’s the kicker, it can ironically also reduce productivity.
No wonder some think dividing the work day into strategic bursts of effort undertaken during your routinely most productive times -- as opposed to on an arbitrarily set schedule -- is probably a better idea. Even weaving in spells of meditation and mindless doodling into your work patterns can make you a happier and more successful employee or entrepreneur. Draw your own conclusions.
For more on how we ended up laboring for eight hours at a time, and why there’s a movement afoot to shift away from the moth-eaten tradition, please, take a short break (remember those?) and peruse the thought-provoking infographic below. It comes to us care of Podio, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based provider of collaboration software for co-workers.
(In case you’re inclined to do more research on this topic, here’s the full list of sources used to create the infographic.)