Let’s face it. The 40-hour work week has been dead for a while. Of course, there have always been those who put in sixty hours or more a week, whether by personal choice or company demand. But today, fewer and fewer companies are enforcing strict hours that employees need to clock in and out at. 

And it makes sense. After all, our work lives and home lives don’t look the way they did a couple generations ago, so why should our schedules stay the same? There are more and more reasons why people across industries are abandoning the “traditional” nine to five, and working with their employers to build schedules that work best for them. 

Let’s take a look at three of the biggest reasons why the 40-hour work week is becoming a thing of the past: 

Changing Family Structures Demand More Personalized Schedules 

A couple generations ago, it would generally be the husbands punching the clock while the wives stayed at home to watch the children and run the household. Today, this is less and less the norm. It is far more likely for two parents to juggle childcare duties and full-time jobs, or for either the mother or father to take on limited hours so that they can raise a family at the same time. Many companies have responded to this changing household structure by working with employees to create work schedules that can fit within busy personal schedules.    

Longer Hours Don’t Equal Higher Productivity—Quite the Opposite

More companies are realizing that mandating employees to all keep the same schedule and set hours can actually do more harm than good. For one thing, not everyone has the same natural rhythm of productivity; some people work better in the morning, others in the evening; some work better with regularly scheduled breaks, and others straight throughout the work day. Enforcing regular hours can increase the risk of burnout, which can either mean decreased efficiency, or an increased likelihood of leaving the company—both of which will undoubtedly affect a company’s bottom line.

Flexible Company Models Mean Flexible Employee Schedules 

In the age of startups and where more business can be conducted online, many companies have begun to extend their employees this same flexibility. This could include working from home—at least part of the work week—and conducting business over email, the phone or through productivity tools like Slack. In fact, many companies have gotten rid of a physical work space altogether, which has greatly reduced overhead costs. Additionally, this allows employees to design their own work schedules and cuts down on needless meetings and wasted downtime. 

Trust Your Employees to Manage Their Time

Many modern companies are declaring that the 40-hour work week is dead. And it’s all for the better. When you trust your employees to manage their own time, and to create a schedule that works best for them, you can help improve their productivity, their final work product, and their overall workplace morale. All of which can positively impact your bottom line. 


Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash