40 hour workweek was introduced in 1817 by Robert Owen1, to shorten the working hours for the workers at that time. With the slogan being:
"Eight hours' labour, Eight hours' recreation, Eight hours' rest".
The workers used to work 10 to 16 hours per day, six days a week. Kudos to Robert! 1847 England people still work 10 hours, 12 hours in France before February Revolution of 1848.
International Workingmen's Association proposed 8 hour is the legal limit, and it became wordwide standard after Hours of Work (Industry) Convention in 1919 by International Labour Organization.
The status quo of working is 9 to 5, 8 hours a day, and 40 hours a week (40-5). There are places people going backwards to require workers to follow a 996 (9 to 9, 6 days a week, 72 hours!) 72-6 schedule.
100+ years have passed, the 40-hour workweek worked for us. But there is a trending moving toward working less.
France and Germany already advanced to 35-hour workweek. Basecamp work 32-hour in Summer. Radioactive successfully switched to a 4-day workweek without pay cut.
Microsoft experimented 4-day workweek in summer (Friday off, 32-hour workweek) and had great success2. A british company An accelerator in Melbourne trying 6-hour workday. German workers won the fight for a 28 hour workweek.3 Wildbit is experimenting 4-day workweek.
There were recent discussions of working nights and weekends:
While long hours can't be a goal, I worry that it's easy to mislead. As a descriptive matter, creating Stripe required obsessive intensity. Maybe better founders could have worked "smarter", but I do know that long hours were needed for *us* to build something great. https://t.co/DAiKniknZS— Patrick Collison (@patrickc) June 4, 2019
If your company requires you to work nights and weekends, your company is broken. This is a managerial problem, not your problem. This is a process problem, not a personal problem. This is an ownership problem, not an individual problem.— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) December 23, 2019
People who work 60 hours a week for themselves should not tell other people to work 60 hours a week for someone else.— Sahil Lavingia (@shl) December 25, 2019
Read also Trickle-down workaholism in startups.
I imagine in the not distant future. We are all going to work for much less. Thinking very likely 24 hours, 3 days a week. I am hoping that day would arrive soon.
1 day after this post. Finland announced their plan4 to 6 hour per day, 4-day workweek (24-4), which is similar to my proposal 24-3. Kudos to Finland.