When I started my first nine-to-five job many years ago, I didn’t ask questions. It was just a known fact that a “normal” office job was 40 hours a week and those were the standard working hours. No matter what, even if you finished all of your work, you were to find something to do to fill that extra time. Sound familiar? Tragically, this seems to still be the case today.
The history of the 40-hour workweek was created in the thirties, yet we are still abiding by this today. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) or the Wages and Hours Bill introduced the forty-hour workweek with eight-hour days. Since this time, it has not been without a fight to figure out the correct number of hours one should work during the week, but now more than ever; we should be giving this another look.
Needless to say, today is a very different workforce than it was in 1938. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, data obtained as of January 2016 is below.
- 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency.
- 80-90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time.
- Studies repeatedly show that employees are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.
This shows that more and more people are valuing a work/life balance, but are also able to be more productive in their workday. I started working remotely about two years ago and boy did it make a difference! Here are just a few things that I’ve observed.
Reduction in lost “daytime” hours. When I had to drive into an office, I spent on average an hour in the car each day. While this number varies across different zip codes, I can tell you that having that hour back has made a huge difference. Not only in the actual drive time, but in the prep time to go into an office. Working remotely allows me to grab my espresso and get right to work. Most days I’m at my desk by 7 a.m. Add the additional time it would take me to get back home on a daily basis and you’ve got around three hours of additional work time.
Increased Productivity. Let’s go back to my last point. Because I’m at my desk 2 hours earlier than most people, I can get work done without my phone ringing or getting bombarded with emails. In addition to that, I do not have anyone walking in my office or stopping me in the hall to chat, only to take up more time. Today I have virtually no interruptions. I can take quick 10-minute breaks throughout the day (as researchers now suggests) to boost cognitive function and get right back to it.
Elevated Focused. Without the noise of the office setting, I can make more calls without having to worry about distractions in the background. It makes for a more peaceful environment, which in turn allows me to be more focused on my work.
Reduced Stress. Many of the factors I’ve listed above can cause stress in a normal office environment. Rushing to work to hit traffic, distractions that have no relevance to work and unnecessary noise. Without these things, it leads to a more peaceful space and less stress.
Working a nine-to-five job in an office might be for those who need a more structured environment, however, the research and benefits show that the majority of the workforce could profit from veering away from a directive that was established over seventy years ago. While it is more common for employers to allow this type of atmosphere more than ever before, it seems that more companies need to do their research before tying people to their desks in an office with strict time constraints.