Friday, September 5, 2014

Why are we still working 40 hours a week?

There is a growing body of evidence that shorter work weeks actually lead to more productive employees.

Right now, the US seems to value long work weeks for the sake of long work weeks. We put in more time at the office than other Western nations, but with less to show for it than one would hope. According to Melissa Dahl, writing in New York Magazine, "The US is one of the most productive nations on the planet, second only to Luxembourg, but Americans work almost 20% more hours than individuals in Luxembourg. We're working longer days, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're achieving more."

An earlier report found that there was little correlation between hours worked, productivity, and wages. Writing in MarketWatch, Quentin Fortrell calculates that Germany works almost 45% fewer annual hours than Greece, but is 70% more productive, while annual German salaries are higher. Reducing work hours has also reduced unemployment, he says, noting that "countries with the largest reduction in work hours had the largest increase in employment rates since the Great Recession".
The shorter work week is an idea that both corporate fat cats and tree-hugging environmentalists can love. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter weeks, while CNBC cites a recent survey showing "that more than 69% of millionaires surveyed (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) said they believed the four-day work week is a 'valid idea'."

At the same time, closing down office car parks for an extra day a week has tremendous environmental impacts, according to Lynn Stuart Parramore writing in AlterNet, due to fewer commuting journeys. She also points out that less time in the office means less time sitting, which has been linked to health risks, and more time to tend to health problems that may go ignored in a typical 40-hour work week. "For many Americans, going to see a doctor involves sneaking off in the middle of the workday, because there's no time outside of work to do it. Ironically, they probably need the doctor more because they spend so much time in the office."

And of course, it's just better for overall morale, which is a boost to both employees and employers, who will have to deal with less turnover and a better motivated workforce.
Should the US adopt a shorter working week? (BBC)

5 Reasons It’s Time for the 4-Day Work Week (Alternet)

At Work, Every Friday Should Be a Summer Friday (NYMag)

Here's an idea, how about we go back to the 40-hour work week? The "40-Hour" Workweek Is Actually Longer -- Full-time U.S. workers, on average, report working 47 hours weekly (Gallup)


  1. Working people to death is part of the overall plan of the criminal oligarchy. They don't want people to be healthy and live decent, happy lives. Their sadistic, sociopathic pleasures in life include imposing cruelty on others and watching them suffer, as endless greed, hubris and desecration of the environment is just not enough. Don't expect our national and state governments (not only in the US but most places on the earth) do anything to help the 90% of humanity that made their wealth and power a reality through hard work and having their small earnings and savings stolen from them. Ebola is just another way to "cull the herd." There will be cures - to those who can afford them. Those who control most of humanity are pieces of shit and we might as well enjoy the ride to oblivion. They'll send the militarized police to repress anyone who complains. MP in PHX-AZ

  2. All work and no play keeps Jack a dull boy. Yep, part of the plan.


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