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The eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work

The eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work
/ SEAN GLADWELL / Moment / Getty Images

The eight-hour workday was started back in 19-century socialism when there was no limit to the amount of work that companies could demand of factory workers. American labor unions fought hard to instill a 40-hour workweek in an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure.

Welsh textile mill owner and social reformer Robert Owen summarized it as, “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, and eight hours rest”.

Over the next 100 years or so, labor unions around the world pushed for the eight-hour standard and in 1926, Henry Ford brought the idea further into the mainstream by mandating a five-day, 40-hour workweek in his company’s factories. In 1940, Congress finally set the American workweek at 40 hours and the rest as they say is history.


The problem is, so much has changed since then and there have been countless essays written and studies conducted over the years that argue the eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work.

In fact, research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for roughly three hours.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day but of the thousands of people they surveyed, almost all admitted they aren't actually working for most of the time they're at work.

Recently on The Beat 5@7, Cat and Claudia discussed why so many people want to abolish the idea. Take a listen to the audio above and while you are here, check out the list of the most popular unproductive activities people do while killing time at their day job:

10 most common things people do at work to kill time:

Reading news websites--1 hour, 5 minutes

Checking social media--44 minutes

Discussing non-work-related things with co-workers--40 minutes

Searching for new jobs--26 minutes

Taking smoke breaks--23 minutes

Making calls to partners or friends--18 minutes

Making hot drinks--17 minutes

Texting or instant messaging--14 minutes

Eating snacks--8 minutes

Making food in office--7 minutes



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