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Less Hours Worked Means More Work Done

Jaclyn+Fabing
Jaclyn Fabing

Jaclyn Fabing

Jaclyn Fabing

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‘Nine-to-Five’ is a staple of American society. During the Industrial Revolution, workers protested in the streets for the eight-hour work day, with the slogan “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”
Interestingly, in 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted because of the rise in production and automation, by the time of the 21st century, people would be working fifteen hours a week. However, despite Keynes accurately predicting productivity going up, it seems the opposite has happened in regards to hours worked.
Individuals who work on salary feel obligated to stay later to finish projects, or continue to check their email and work on their computers after going home. Individuals who work hourly wages are often strapped for cash and will work overtime and occasionally have two or three jobs in order to try to make ends meet. According to Gallup, American full-time workers report working an average of 47 hours per week, or nine hours a day. Of those surveyed, 18% report working 60 hours or more a week.
This is despite proof that a longer work day is making us less productive.
A government-funded study in the Swedish city of Gothenburg that took place over two years had a group of nurses at an elderly care home work six hours a week, while still being paid for eight hours. Sick leaves dropped by 10%, the nurses reported feeling less stressed and more alert, and the elderly at the facility reported better care. They weren’t the only ones to report such a phenomenon: US Company Tower Paddle Boards implemented a strict five-hour workday, and CEO Stephan Aarstol has reported seeing growth because of it.
America may be the fifth most productive country in the world according to the OED, but the only country to work equal to or more hours per week than the US is Iceland, at #19 on the list of most productive countries. Perhaps then, it’s time to face facts: Productivity is not directly related to hours worked.
One may complain that a shorter work week would be useless, and that our lives may be better spent working rather than lounging on a beach or sitting in front of a television. It’s easily arguable, however, that days are spent lounging at the beach or sitting in front of a television because the average person is too overworked and exhausted to do more than lounge. If the average workday became six hours long, especially for the same amount worked, then ideally people would have the energy not only to work harder, but to pick up hobbies that could benefit communities and lead to a healthier public.
Why not, then, give workers control of their lives once again?

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