Why an eight-hour workday is not a good idea

Recent studies have shown that an eight-hour workday is a terrible idea as it has nothing to do with your productivity or efficiency. While some have called for a four-day work week, others think a four-hour workday is sufficient. Though the debate rages on, one thing is clear - an eight-hour workday is not the answer!

Written by Ishita Goel | New Delhi | Published: February 15, 2018 10:37:26 pm

8 hour work days, work timings, office timings, office hours, long working hours health, office hours health harm Eight hour-long office timings can make you less productive. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Is work tiring you out too much? Do you find yourself dozing off at your desk too often? Laziness is not always the cause of such inattention. A growing research has shown that it might be your eight-hour working day that is the culprit after all. Recent studies have shown that an eight-hour workday is a terrible idea as it has nothing to do with your productivity or efficiency.

Who brought the eight-hour workday?

It came after a campaign by social reformer Robert Owen in 1810. At that time, factories used to work for 24 hours, and workers would often find themselves labouring for 10-15 hours. Owen came up with a slogan: ‘Eight Hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest’. After almost a 100 years, in 1926, the Ford Motor company became one of the first in America to implement an eight hour work day.

Now, many academicians believe that the eight-hour workday is an outdated idea and their claim has been supported by many studies.

An experiment was conducted in Sweden with nurses at a care home in Gothenburg. Initial reports said that nurses were happier and were more productive during a six-hour shift. However, when the timings were stretched to eight hours, they were relatively more tired, as reported by BBC.

It’s not just the timings but also the continual work regime, without taking a break. Writing for the Huffington Post, Tony Schwartz quoted sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman, who discovered something called ‘basic rest-activity cycle’. It suggests that our bodies work on a 90-minute period at night, shifting between deep and light sleep.

According to Kleitman, this holds true during the day as well as we move from high alertness to low in 90-minute periods, called the ‘ultradian rhythm’. The research implied that taking breaks between work is essential to productivity.

While some have called for a four-day work week, others think a four-hour workday is sufficient. Though the debate rages on, one thing is clear – an eight-hour workday is not the answer!

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