The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in significant changes to employment all across the globe. Remote working became commonplace, with many tech employees maintaining high productivity levels from their home offices. In fact, some employers’ desire to return to the office became a contributor to the current Great Resignation. In short, modern employee wants significant flexibility in their professional life.
Recently, even the venerable 40-hour workweek began to be questioned by many throughout the business world. So let’s take a look at this critical question facing employers and IT professionals. Is it possible to stay highly productive working fewer hours each week?
Is 40 Hours a Week Really Still Necessary?
Workweeks Used to be Much Longer
Remember, the 40-hour workweek only officially became reality in 1938, after Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. Before that, some workers faced 12 to 16-hour workdays, with only their Sundays off. Various attempts by the Labor movement to reduce this workload ultimately failed.
However, Henry Ford noted that longer work weeks actually reduced productivity at his factories. So in 1926, he instituted his own 8-hour workday while also providing his workers with a full weekend off. It proved that a 40-hour workweek actually let his workers enjoy the fruit of their labors. In short, Ford felt leisure time remained an essential part of boosting economic activity. As he noted: “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.”
Modern Employees Need Balance in Their Lives
A century later, multiple studies reveal that working more than 40 hours per week still results in lower productivity. Even a traditional 40-hour workweek leads to burnout, increased stress, and subsequent health problems. At the same time, employees increasingly demand more balance in their lives, as evidenced by The Great Resignation.
As a result, the times appear to be changing. In a Japanese culture previously known for workaholism, they reduced hours resulting in an average 33-hour work week. Iceland instituted a 36-hour workweek with successful results. Even Microsoft switched to a 4-day workweek with a subsequent increase in productivity of 40 percent.
Still, those 10-hour workdays in Redmond lead to an increase in errors and lower productivity. A 32-hour workweek remains an option for some companies. However, others feel that number of working hours is too low. Ultimately, there is no simple answer to this complex question. In the end, providing employees with flexible schedules offers a meaningful opportunity to reduce stress and increase productivity.
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If you need an influx of tech talent, connect with the team at Technology Partners. As one of the top IT staffing agencies in St. Louis, we provide exceptional candidates to help your success. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss your hiring needs.