Why are we still working 40 hours a week?
Ben Carlson has a good piece about how working hours have come down over history, but we have been stuck at 40 hours over 5 days since the 1940’s, a world very different to our current one.
In 1870, more than 80% of the labor force worked in physically demanding jobs that were equal parts hazardous to their health, tedious, and unpleasant. Workers averaged 11–12 hour days until the laws changed in 1874 to mandate no more than 10 hours a day. In 1900, the standard work week was 10 hours a day for 6 days a week. By 1920 it was down to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week until that finally settled at the standard 5 day 40-hour work week by the 1940s.
Why are there so few part time careers? Ryan Hoover was lucky enough to have one and admits it was a huge help in allowing him to create ProductHunt the other half of the week in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Well, that two months actually turned into me transitioning to helping the company part-time for almost six months, which was incredible. I still got to make some money and not worry too much, and I had the time to find the right startup to join and work on various projects.
Knowledge jobs are more creative than we acknowledge — we don’t expect writers or artists to clock in at exactly 9am everyday, and be finished at 5pm everyday, yet that’s how most office jobs work. And there’s only take, no give — if you stay an extra couple of hours one evening to hit a deadline people say thanks, but if you try and leave 10 mins early the next day it still feels awkward.
I wish 20 hour careers were more common — it would allow people to work on side projects the rest of the week, or parents to spend more time with their kids (think of the huge brainpower effectively wasted with stay at home parents, who want to get back in the workforce, but not full time.) And further more, if you only had 20 hours a week to get your shit done, I feel confident that you would achieve more than 50% of what you do in 40 hours — its a win/win for employer and employee.
Higher productivity, greater flexibility, greater happiness, and less of this:
Another crazy thing about full time jobs — its our only source of income for most people, making you 100% dependent on your boss/company to keep paying you. We’re all told to diversify our investments, yet we are as concentrated as possible with our income — why is that? The top 10% of the US, have 80% of the total wealth of the stock market, meaning your average household has very little skin in the game, and hence isn’t hedged at all against losing their sole source of income.
If you worked two 20 hour jobs and one of them let you go, at least you would only be half as screwed as you are today. Investing across the market is prudent and is a hedge against your employer, but a lot of people don’t have enough money left over at the end of the month to invest anything.
My 2018 goal is to develop a passive side income through software I make. At the moment I’m trying to help the 46% of Americans who can’t make a $400 payment with a free budgeting tool called MySpendingPal. You input your monthly income and expenses to give you a daily budget, and it forecasts if you will have enough money to last the month at your current levels of spending.
Give it a try, and let me know how we can make it better!