Majority of the jobs have 8-9 hour work shifts. Everyone has to spend this amount of time at the office before they can be done for the day, unless they have flexible work timings. Also including working for extra hours if it requires getting the job done.
How did this system came into place?
It was 1866, during the 19th century in America when people used to work over 100 hours per week, including children (because not even child labor laws existed back then). Manual labor required working longer hours, but that just mostly led the workers to exhausting themselves.
National Labor Union asked Congress to mandate a law consisting of mandating an 9-hour workday. They didn’t succeed in doing so, but they did inspire people to support labor laws over the coming years.
The next year on May 1, The Illinois Legislature passed a law mandating 8-hour workdays. Many employers refused to cooperate with this law, and it led to a massive strike in Chicago. This day came to be known as the May-Day.
The Labor Unions continued organizing and demonstrating protests on the May-Day every year to keep awareness about the issue.
In 1886, they organized a nationwide strike to support shorter work hours. Over 3 lakh workers showed up to protest for their rights across the country. Huge protests erupted in Chicago which led to clashes between the police and the protests, with many being wounded and killed at both sides. The event came to be known as “Haymarket Affair” down the history.
In the 20th century, Henry Ford became one of the first employers to adopt the standard of 5-days, 8-hours a week for his employees. He was also one of the first people to double the wage from 2.34$ for 9-hours a day to $5 for 8-hour a day.
In 1938, Congress passed a new act: Fair Labor Standards Act. It limited the work-hours to 44 hours per week.
In 1940, the act was amended, limiting the working hours per week to 40 hours. It went into effect on October 24, 1940.
Majority of the industry continues following this standard.
The World Has Evolved So Much Since Then, Do We Really Need 9-5 Now?
The world has a lot more to offer than it did back in 1940s.
Back then, there was no internet, no smartphones, no mainstream computers and laptops, no iPods and not so much was there in technology.
Car was a real luxury which only a very few people could afford. So was a TV.
People were fighting over casteism and racism was on a high (Oh wait sorry! They still are).
Some of the jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago:
- Social Media Manager
- SEO Specialist
- Zumba Instructor
- Uber Driver
- Employment Brand Manager
- Virtual Assistant
- Content Marketer
- Growth Hacker
- Automated Driving Car Engineer
- And many many more.
The advancement in technology has not only led to the development of so many job professions and openings, but also has made many jobs obsolete.
8-hour work days were set for manual labor workers. We all are following that standard only. Is it necessary to follow this suit?
People do different jobs now than they did back then. People can even work over their smartphones, sending and receiving e-mails, promoting their latest work and what not.
There are so many professions out there. And setting each one of them with a compulsory 8-hour workday isn’t fair at all.
How stupid it is when you are done with your work in 5-hours but you have to wait and stay for another 3-hours, just because it is the standard?
Time To Go Flexible
I think it is time that all workplaces need to have flexible work timings.
People should be allowed and come and leave whenever they want, conditioning being they attend all the meetings and do all their work on time. They’ll work extra hours if need be, because they know they need to get the job done.
Employees are working for you. They should be given the right to work as they like. If they are comfortable and happy, it’ll automatically result in better productivity, no matter how many hours they put in.
I am very glad I had my first experience working with flexible work timings, and it really helped in getting the best of me.
Flexible work timings is the future. The sooner you adopt it, the sooner you’ll be taking a step in a better direction and also a step in favor of your employees, the backbone of your company.