40 hours a week is too much

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, that is 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.

Australia’s workweek is 38-hour. 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:

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.

  • 1

    Eight-hour day

  • 2

    From this post (in Japanese), Microsoft saw a overall productivity up about 40%.

  • 3

    Opt-in to work 28 hours a week for up to two years, before returning to the standard 35-hour week.

  • 4

    I could not find a official statement of this, it’s a fake news. But let’s be optimistic this may happen :)