Reconsidering the 40-Hour Work Week
The traditional 40-hour work week, which has been in existence for more than 80 years, is now being called into question, thanks to pandemic-induced worker stress and burnout as well as a competitive hiring environment.
The chorus advocating for change to the current model includes Kizen CEO John Winner, who believes that while a 40-hour week can work in some form, a 25-hour one is a better way forward.
Winner, the co-founder and CEO of Kizen, creators of a no-code business software for workflow automation, discussed this issue and the future of work on a recent episode of Pinkston’s Coffee with Closers podcast.
“Fundamentally, the reason why the 40-hour work week should be evolved is because when we think about the overall life plan in building really happy people and employees and civilizations, which I think should be our goal, not to say you need to be at your desk 40 hours a week, it should be we are building a happier ecosystem across all of our stakeholders. We should be asking how can we get people to have a more balanced, healthier, happier life,” said Winner.
“And when I just build a time budget and I imagine all of the commitments someone with a family and hobbies and all the different parts of their life that creates a really happy life, and fitness and health, it’s difficult to accomplish all of that in a week,” added Winner.
Winner credits advancements in intelligent automation as driving the move to a shorter work week. “This isn’t something we are thinking about in 2040 or 2050. This is a 2020’s reality thing, where we are already seeing processes in place where people are becoming one and a half to two and a half times more efficient at their day-to-day work.”
But not everyone is buying the argument. Last month, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk told his workforce at both companies that they must work a minimum of 40 hours per week in the office, or face repercussions. Winner said in response: “Elon has a unique ability to evangelize and build that workforce. I think it’s going to be incredibly interesting to see the reaction towards this.”
In a sign that a move to a shorter work week could gain more steam, the United Kingdom recently announced the world’s biggest four-day work week trial for some 3,300 workers from large and small companies to take place over six months. And, in California, a group of state legislators have been pushing for a four-day work week bill for hourly workers at companies with more than 500 employees. That effort has stalled in the Legislature.