Should the 40-Hour Work Week Be Standard?

The forty hour work week, or the traditional nice-to-five job, is about as American as apple pie and ice cream. Eight hours a day, five days a week is the commonplace standard in most professional settings. In fact, most of our setups, especially in our education system, are created to prepare us for this nine-to-five lifestyle.
From kindergarten to twelfth grade, school days are normally 8 hours long and begin early in the morning until afternoon. College classes, excluding night classes and online learning, are scheduled throughout the day during standard nine-to-five business hours.
There are many benefits to the 40 hour a week, 9-5 set up. It keeps businesses structured, and makes aligning schedules and meetings less complex with everyone running on a standard system. Before even checking with a company, you can almost bet that their business hours are 9 a.m to 5 p.m. But the truth is, while the benefits are there for businesses, many people don’t operate well on this set schedule.
This article written by Mikael Cho, founder and CEO of Ooomf, explains why setting exact work hours may not be the best idea. Rather than do the traditional 9-5, he and his co-founders work according to when they have the most energy to be productive. Some start their days early, around 9am and others who prefer later hours start in the evening into early morning hours.
While switching up how we do business days could take much adapting and be a little tricky, the costs could be well worth it in terms of productivity gains.
In college, we have the option, more often than not, to schedule classes in ways that best fit our lifestyles. If we aren’t our best in the mornings, we pass on the 8am classes. So if we aren’t able to be authentically productive at 9am, does it make sense to begin our work day on the wrong foot?
Of course there are some fields, like the medicine industry which runs on a 24/7 schedule, who would not be able to make these adjustments as readily. But for those who could, opting to deviate from the norm may be a best practice to put in place.
Let’s start a conversation – do you believe the traditional nine-to-five forty hour work week should remain standard? Or, would it be more beneficial to structure business hours around the productivity and energy levels of employees?
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