I read an article the other day about how the five-day work week started during the Industrial Revolution, and how we came to standardize an eight-hour-day. Forty hours a week was apparently determined to be the correct number of hours to work.
But, is it?
Is working 9 to 5 optimal for productivity? Creativity? Well-being?
Working from home has allowed us greater freedom than ever before. On the Zoom call while folding laundry? Why not? As long as your camera is off (so no one inadvertently sees your tighty-whiteys!).
Take a nap at 1pm, only to emerge refreshed and ready to tackle the next task? Sure!
Take a walk to be inspired for a creative challenge? Madness not to!
Flexible work days help enable employees to customize the day to their needs. Those who are ‘morning people’ can start early and take off early. Those who are ‘night owls’ can sleep in and work til 8pm if they want. Spread your 40 hours/week over seven days if that’s what works. (Radical!)
In our industry (marketing, communications), creativity is not a switch you turn on at 9 am and turn off at 5pm. If someone’s not “feeling it” on a Tuesday, say, why not take the day off and work Saturday instead? As long as deadlines are met, who cares?
No one is 100% productive during the work day. Some studies have shown that desk-based employees are actually only productive, on average, for three hours a day! Just ‘showing up’ does not equal productivity, and we’ve all worked with people who have made an art form out of looking busy while really doing nothing.
So what difference would it make if your employers had total flexibility over their work days? A few simple rules could ensure fairness for all, and that deadlines are met and people are present when they’re needed.
It’s something that has been accelerated by the work-from-home phenomenon.
It will be interesting to see how the corporate world emerges after the pandemic, and whether radical ideas that challenge paradigms, such as work days, result in our next ‘industrial revolution.’