Is The 40-hour Workweek Dead?

40-hour Workweek

The 40-hour workweek is dead! It died in the hands of employees and employers. Surprisingly, many employers are still living in Henry Ford’s time. They even rank workers by the hours present in the office, rather than the output.

But let’s face it; productivity, or rather creativity, dies with exhaustion. You will find many people in the teaching profession, spending more than the standard 40-hour every single week. What for, you may ask. Teachers have to mark and grade test scripts, prepare lesson notes for the next day, and do other things. At the end of the week, they may have spent 60+ hours in total.

So, if you are reading this, you can see why industrialized countries like the United States of America lack qualified teachers.  

How Employees Killed The 40-Hour Workweek

If you are an employee and probably reading this right now, know you are guilty as charged! But it’s not your fault anyway. The system we are in necessitated it. 

Below are two ways employees contribute to making the 40-hour workweek dead:

  • Working overtime to earn more bucks

Are you continually spending extra time at the office? Well, employees in this category killed the 40-hour workweek. But how is that possible? It has to do with the stress associated with working extra hours.

Employees, particularly those in the United States of America, are increasingly getting into this overtime work thing. Working overtime means more money in the pocket. One’s income may increase, for sure. 

But the problem is taxation. The more money you make, the higher the tax you may likely pay. So, you may not necessarily make that much money you where hoping to make. 

So, even when you work overtime, a large chunk of the bonus goes into the tax collector’s pocket. Again, some employers might not even recognize or reward you for the extra time. They will take it that you worked less during the day, that’s why you are working overtime. 

Take, for example, the teaching profession. Teachers sometimes go home or stay right back at the office to put together lesson notes, grade students, and do other tasks. Most of them spend more than the standard 40 hours captured by their employers. Then, there is the stress factor, which can even make one unproductive. The body needs rest and working after hours consecutively can deprive it of such. 

So, literately, working overtime can make one saddened, disengaged. An individual that is highly stressed will certainly not give his best. Is this something you want from your employees as a CEO or employer? Or is it something that you would want to become or experience as an employee? Think about it carefully.

  • Finishing Your Tasks On Time To Have Better Excuses To Leave The Office Early

Some employees enjoy finishing their tasks on-time. And it’s also hard to find such employees spending extra hours in the office. They claim to be more motivated and focused on the job. So, it’s quite easy to tag such employees as being super productive. 

But we all are humans, not machines. At times, you might be in your peak and give your best during the 9-5 hour window which your employer would undoubtedly bank on when it’s time for payment. 

Now here is the thing, you may become tired after losing so much energy in the quest to complete yesterday’s job on-time. So, what happens today? Of course, you might not be able to give your all because of the exhaustion from yesterday’s work. In the end, you will find yourself exceeding the 40-hour mark in some weeks.

How Millennials Are Changing The 40-Hour Workweek Notion

There were talks about automated techs and AI (artificial intelligence) getting some of the routine jobs meant for humans. Well, that’s happening around the world today. But when one door closes, another door of opportunities opens. There is a plethora of creative positions and opportunities for employees too.

However, the sad thing is that exhaustion cripples creativity. It’s almost impossible to do anything meaningful with yourself when you are tired. Humans are not AIs, neither can we work tirelessly, as automated techs and AIs do. 

Workers are beginning to understand and give reasons why the 40-hours workweek should forever remain buried. But amongst the numerous professionals calling for this change, the voice and agitations of Millennials have been the loudest.  

There is a need for employees to have a balanced life and work. A flexible schedule or work hour and handsome compensation for their effort wouldn’t be a bad idea. 

Much respect to Henry Ford. But it’s time for employers to call a spade a spade. Ford’s ideology of the 9-5 working hours was targeted at factory workers who do manual jobs. 

So, for a salesperson working in a company, such working hours might not be feasible. If he or she were to communicate with a client who stays in another country and has a different time zone, how possible could this be? Such scenarios might even cause the salesperson to spend extra hours sometimes, to actualize the goal. 

It’s time employers accept the fact that the 40-hours workweek is obsolete, dead, and should be discarded. It’s causing more harm to business progress than one can imagine. 

Notable Companies Are Squashing The Old Law

Are you breaking the law for not abiding by the 40-hour workweek? Not at all! As long as you are comfortable with your employer’s terms, you and your employers aren’t doing anything wrong. 

The thing is, many notable Silicone Valley establishments have started changing the game. They understand the importance of having employees with a healthy mind and energy. That’s why the 32 hours a week offer is driving growth in most of these companies. Workers come to work each day, knowing that their weekend break begins on Thursday after work.  

Millennials have started showing massive interest in the 32 hours workweek most of these companies are offering. They are not only attracted by the compensation and time off packages but how such opportunities can make them even more productive at work. 

So, when you see employees apply to such offers in droves, there is no point tagging them as lazy workers. The truth is, even if one lands a 32-hour per week job, time management still plays a crucial role. If you cannot complete assigned tasks within the 32 hours estimated, you might end up spending more time at the office.  

Why The Numbers Don’t Lie

Let’s say, a company hires two employees and pays them handsomely. But in return, the employees are expected to invest at least 50 hours per week. If you are an employer and you actively support this, then you should consider blaming yourself when the results don’t come as expected. 

Let’s face it; do you think two persons will be more productive than when three are hired to work on the same project? The short and simple answer is no. You might think that you’re saving money by allowing your workers to work overtime. But you are hurting your business. So, it’s better to hire more hands than allocate the jobs to a few persons who might end up working extra hours. 

How To End The 40-Hour Workweek Without Lowering Output

Employers should start considering other work arrangements rather than the regular 40-hour per week thing. With an ideal arrangement, employee productivity can increase. Let’s take a look at simple ways you can achieve this. 

#1 Develop Flexible Working Arrangements

A flexible work arrangement is one of the ways you can break this cycle. It can also boost employee productivity. Create room for employees to work remotely. It will give them a chance to work whenever they are at their best. Of course, the output will be pleasing when you have workers who are in their best state working for you.

Some people work best at night, while some prefer working during the day. If you have both employees working for you, a flexible work arrangement will ensure you get the best out of them both. Even when they work remotely, you will be sure of getting the expected result. 

#2 Rate Quality Of Work, Not Hours Spent At Work

Who loses when an employee walks into the office, spends the required 8 hours, and goes home without achieving much? The company loses, right? That’s what happens when a manager is only concerned about hours, not output

So, to solve this problem, managers should be taught how to assign tasks. Having an ideal delegation technique will help to ensure that the workload won’t be too much for the overachievers in the company to handle. 


The 40-hour workweek is dead and buried. So, it is high time businesses started looking for ways to implement other working arrangements that will yield expected results. But keep in mind that exhaustion can hamper creativity. So, whatever program work hour you are designing, ensure it is ideal for your employees. Any business that wants to succeed must ensure employees get a comfortable working environment and schedule. This way, you will get the best output. 

Author Bio

Mike Ashley is a business writer with a heart of gold. He’s a writer at Writezillas and enjoys crafting papers on work-related issues, and understands no employee is lazy. If he is not writing one of those controversial business papers, you can catch Mike watching football. 

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