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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Back to the 40 hour workweek

This article by Sara Robinson inspired me.

It's interesting to read how the 40 hour workweek was generally accepted right up to the 1950's.
And then, along with the success of the Silicon Valley came the idea that workers need to have passion for their work, and with passion come long working weeks.

According to Sara it's proven that working more then 40 hours a week has a great cost in health, fun and productivity.  With every week of working more then 40 hours productivity decreases.  When working 60 hours a week for a period of 8 weeks the total outcome of this 8 weeks is equal to the outcome that would have been acheived when working 40 hours a week during these 8 weeks. And in the case of working 60 hours a week, after 8 weeks productivity keeps on decreasing so you end up delivering less then what you would deliver when working a steady 40 hours a week.
( If you're working 80 hours a week, the tipping point is after 3 weeks!)

Very interesting !!

To go back to a 40 hour work week, the big challenge for modern knowledge workers is not that they have too much work to do.  It's that we want to show ourselves, our family, our colleagues and others that we have passion. That we are committed to taking care of our family and the company we work for.  We demonstrate our commitment by working hard.

So to go back to the healthier 40 hours a week, we have to convince ourselves that working long hours is not related to commitment. It's an easy way out to convince others and ourself that we are doing the best we can.  In fact, we're not doing the best we can!   We could do better by being evenly committed but spending no more then 40 hours at work.

A challenge I'm definitely taking on!

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