Why do we have a 40-hour workweek?
Depending on your career, that affects your life very directly — even if it’s never crossed your mind.
It’s also the question at the heart of a viral TikTok by management coach Emily Ballesteros. Her video, which has more than 1.6 million views, explains why she believes the 40-hour workweek is “tragically outdated.”
Ballesteros begins her video by noting that the concept of a 40-hour workweek was created by the Ford Motor Company in the early 1900s. As Ballesteros points out, the concept proved effective for industrial jobs asked people to perform one, repeated task.
However, so many of today’s jobs are “project-based,” meaning they involve complex and constantly differing tasks. Ballesteros says a “standard” week doesn’t really fit with that kind of role.
“We rolled over this eight-hour [per day] framework into industries where it doesn’t make sense,” the TikToker explains. “By just having someone keep themselves busy for eight hours, you’re losing so much productivity.”
Ballesteros went on to note that Ford’s eight hours per day, five days per week working style was created in a different era.
Back then, most women stayed at home and commuting was completely different. Additionally, Americans didn’t have the technology to efficiently work from home.
“This framework was created by one man, in one industry, 100 years ago — and we have not improved it,” Ballesteros added.
The management coach suggested that every industry do some “critical thinking” to see what type of workweek suits their employees best. Many TikTokers seemed to agree, too.
“This argument works for so many outdated concepts created years ago,” one user wrote.
“I feel like Covid proved that we don’t actually need to be in an office anymore,” another added. “We definitely need improvements!”
“We shouldn’t center our lives around work,” another wrote.
Other commenters brought up countries like Japan and Germany, where examples of four-day workweeks have often been shown to boost productivity. Earlier in 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested that her country move away from a typical five-day week.
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