Places like Chile and Columbia have a 6 day work week. Not so for us in the United States. Years back, Dolly Parton sang a song that reflected what was “the norm”.
People that worked hard and provided for their families worked 40 hours a week and were proud of it.
Working from nine to five in the past
But, the average 40 hour work week will become a thing of the past within a few years. Maybe in days past there was a reason to have these long work days – there were things to accomplish quickly.
There were war efforts to prepare and fewer people were working outside the home, i.e., housewives.
People that worked with their hands and bodies needed to work during these hours to basically see their work. Electricity was a commodity and many companies didn’t want to pay extra for their use. The 9 to 5 work day was what we did. Saturdays and Sundays were not times to work; you spent this time with your family and went to church. Buildings and industry were closed and would not accommodate. Television and radio programs were slotted to come on after 5 when fathers came home from working these daily hours and now wanted to relax. Nobody would have even thought about working outside of five days and 40 hours.
If you watch old movies, you will notice that those actors that worked 9 to 5 jobs, worked alongside every other city worker. Heck, everyone left work at the same time, got on the train the same time, and went to the bar at the same time! Today, with more and more jobs requiring people to look at a computer screen and think strategically, these 8 hours are brutal, resulting in work being sloppily done – usually after lunch.
Personally, in all of the clerical jobs that I have had, people start planning what they’re doing for the evening about 2:30. Anything done after that time is done just to look busy – and the last hour from 4 to 5? That is when you talk to your friends or take that long-way-around walk to the bathroom.
In a Changing World, the Average Work from Nine to Five Needs to Change
The work week hours will decrease mainly because companies want to save money. Many government jobs are moving to 4 day work weeks. The companies will save money that would normally be spent on an extra day of electricity and air-conditioning/heating. Employees, security officers, and the other such like will not have to be hired for another 8 hour day. School boards and some public libraries in remote areas already do this during the summer months.
Not only do employers want to save money, but they want their employees to save money. This is to help with production, so they say. Longer 10 hour work days, 4 days a week, will allow employees to have a three day weekend. This three day weekend allows employees more time to spend with their families and maybe even save on childcare. Decreasing a five day work week will essentially also help with the cost of gas. An extra day off would save a few extra gallons. Of course, this will, in turn, help the ozone layer. Fewer cars on the road are always a good thing.
With more activities to do, such as video games, television, etc. many people don’t want to have to sit behind a desk for 8 hours a day. Before soap operas came out, many people would sit at home during the day, mostly women, and listen to the radio. Now, with game shows, Law and Order, and other reality shows that you can catch up on during the day, there is more of an incentive to stay home to watch that show.
Working 9 to 5, the actual hours of many businesses operations, is now changing as society becomes computer savvy. The hours are changing to all day into all night. Many large retail businesses are open for 24 hours. Computer help and online services are available all hours of the night. This practically obliterates the hours from 9-5, proving that these hours were created for a different purpose.
Finally, a few years back, the state of Utah decided to try an experiment. In this experiment, they would have all government buildings observe a 4 day work week. This would mean longer work days, but so what, as long as they saved money. Well, it was a success except for one thing. It was near impossible to turn off the power on that 1 day a week that everyone had off. So, they did not save as much money as they would have hoped. What was successful was that employees loved it! They were able to spend time on that extra day doing things that they enjoyed, that they would normally take a day off to do. Production rates increased and there were less call outs. Most successful was the reduction in the number of cars that were in use during this day off.
So, what can we conclude? Many people don’t like to change; however, working 9 to 5 may not be the answer to this new wave of telecommuting that has taken over. Many can work from home, and herald the ability to make their own hours, which normally is not 9 to 5. Working in the early morning, taking an afternoon nap, running to the store to pick up something, and finishing your job two hours later, makes telecommuting a viable option. In a changing world, the average work day needs to change, right? And the work day does not need to only change to less, it can also change to more hours. If you look at all the successful gigantic retailers, you will see how they have become successful. To accommodate a changing world, they now have 24 hour grocery stores and restaurants. So whether the work week changes to more hours or less hours, it ultimately needs to change.
- Law: To telecommute or not to telecommute (thegazette.com)
- Do Companies and Their Employees Benefit from Telecommuting? (community.ally.com)
- Micro-Institutions Everywhere: The Five-Day Work Week (mattdickenson.com)