Why the 8 Hour Workday Doesn’t Make Sense
The 8 hour workday is one of those things that seems be something in place largely because it’s just the way we have done things for so long. I know there are exceptions to the idea that the 8 hour workday doesn’t make any sense. There are certain industries and certain jobs that are required to operate in the structure of an 8 hour day in order to function. I recognize and respect that. But as we move from industrial age to an age of information, it’s time to realize that the system is kind of an efficiency clusterfucj3$. Let’s look at the flaws of an 8 hour work day.
- Commuting: Making people commute to work has to be one of the worst things we do. Traffic for the most part stresses people out. As much as I’ve found ways to pass time sitting in traffic such as audiobooks, I still think that it can’t possibly good for our performance at work to spend an hour in traffic each day. Call me crazy, but spending an hour each day in conditions that irritate the hell out of you doesn’t seem like it’s going lead to the most productive day at work. But thousands, if not millions of people commute to work every single day.
- Inefficiency: I’ve said before that most people suck at managing time. You don’t need to blame yourself for that. You should blame the system that forced you to work within the structure of the 8 hour work day. The inefficiencies of the 8 hour work day are vast. A while back I talked about productivity, flow states and how I write 5 blog posts 2 hours. At the root of all this inefficiency is the fact that nobody is productive for 8 hours a day. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most people aren’t doing anything for 40% of the working week. Because we’ve given people 8 hours to work with they’ll find ways to fill that time and call it work. It’s not a lack of time that’s the problem, it’s too much time.
- Unhappiness: It seems that the typical 9to5er is living for the weekends. Radio stations say things like “it’s hump day, you’re almost there.” Almost where? Why are we constantly trying to get a destination other than where we’re at? How much anxiety is that really causing? Why do companies not even ask questions like this? Within the confines of the 8 hour workday people eagerly anticipate the weekend because they will finally be free, even if is for just for 48 hours. You really have to wonder how much of a person’s full potential is being reached when they are viewing their working environment like this. If every week you go to work anticipating the opportunity for your once a week escape, then it’s clear that the 8 hour work day is flawed. I had a boss a few years back who seemed insistent on measuring face time. If I left the office at 4:30 on a Friday, I would receive a phone call at 5 asking why I left early. Let’s just say if it was socially acceptable I would probably kick this guy in the balls and punch him in the face if I saw him again. Mark Lawrence at Lifestyle Ignition even wrote about the amount of fake work that seems to be pervading the corporate world. Escaping the 9 to 5 is a mission that more and more people seem to be on these days.
- Stifling Creativity: At the root of all 8 hour workday issues is this. The 8 hour work day is a creativity killer. Today, human creativity is at an all time high because less and less people are working in offices. People are finding ways to make a sustainable living by tapping into their own creative potential. This is the beginning of what I think will be a creativity revolution. The technology platforms in place today have removed the barriers of technical knowledge and opened up possibilities to everybody. The 8 hour workday is the kiss of death to these possibilities. Unfortunately, office environments are not particularly inspiring, with rare exception (Google, Facebook, etc). It’s interesting to note that an inspiring office environment seems to be common to some of the greatest corporate success stories of our time. What’s amazing is that if we started to rethink the 8 hour workday in terms of a person’s creative capacity, instead of the number of hours they work, we may possibly tap into the best work that every individual has inside of them. It’s even possible that they would work more than 8 hours because you’ve allowed them to define the structure of what works best for them and given them the freedom to operate.
Despite all of this, people will still work 9 to 5 and even search for 9 to 5 jobs. The corporate world has done such a good job conditioning us into to this that people fear the idea of operating outside of the 9 to 5. I’m going to go out on a huge limb and say that at some point the the 8 hour work day is going to be the demise of corporate America and the very system that has kept things running like clockwork for years is going to be what causes it to fall apart. The digital nomads, the netsetters, and all of us who are taking part in this creativity revolution are just the beginning of a movement where an entire generation is going to give corporate america and the social matrix the finger.
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