A 2016 survey of 1,989 UK office workers has revealed something that most of us working in 9-5 office jobs already know: eight-hour workdays are bullshit.
Research has shown that the average worker spends most of their work day doing everything apart from the work that they’re actually meant to be doing; namely: eating, checking social media, smoking, reading the news, chatting to colleagues and even searching for new jobs.
The survey suggests that the average employee spends only two hours and 53 minutes of an eight-hour day actually doing their job.
Respondents of the study conducted by www.vouchercloud.com were asked if they consider themselves to be “productive throughout the entire working day”, with 79% answering no. The remaining 21% were probably either robots or lying.
In our collective defense, K. Anders Ericsson, an expert on the psychology of work, says that performance begins to flat-line or even worsen towards the end of the day, with workers that are being pushed too much most likely to acquire bad habits (such as making their ninth cup of tea of the day).
Psychologists have long suggested that our brains can’t focus on tasks for more than a few hours at a time, and with fears that smartphones are making our attention spans even shorter, the evidence shows that it might be time to rethink the way we work.
Although a three-hour workday might be far in the Utopian future, some companies such as Amazon have started adjusting their schedules to help employees work more efficiently, with the introduction of 32-hour weeks (i.e. four eight-hour working days instead of the traditional five).
Respondents of the survey claimed that the time spent doing other things made their working day “more bearable” and helped raise their productivity for the rest of the day, which makes the case for both a shorter working day and week pretty clear.
Anders Ericsson backs up this idea, claiming the move could make people more productive in the long run. “Employers may actually be getting much more out of their employees if they only work 50 or 75% of the current work hours,” he argues.
More productivity for your boss and more time in the pub for you? It’s a win-win. Does this mean we can get rid of Mondays?