Reasons Why the 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Make Sense

Office work needs to die.

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

2020 was a year full of changes for me. The most important one, start working from home.

In 5 years of experience working in an office, I never imagined that my remote life would be so great.

My biggest concerns were not concentrating and not having partners that motivated me on a day-to-day basis. But in a good company and with communication, this is the least of the problems.

I adapted quickly, and currently, I consider that an 8-hour workday doesn’t make sense.

These are the biggest benefits I have got working on my own schedule, and for which I understand that going back to an 8 hours day schedule doesn’t make sense.

Our brain is not designed to work 8 hours straight

Our mind works like a muscle. So we are training it with all the cognitive processes associated with it, such as willpower, decision-making, and even just our way of thinking.

A recent study by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track the work habits of employees. Specifically, the app measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

The ideal work-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest.

The people who maintained this program had a unique level of focus on their work. For about an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish.

When they felt tired (again, after an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated from their work. This helped refresh them for another productive hour of work.

So if we are not designed to work 8 hours straight, it does not make sense that we have to do it to meet a standard.

Even our bosses know it. Once, I was in a meeting because we needed to estimate a project. I told him I could do it in 4 hours, and I can work on another thing in the afternoon.

He told me that he would give me a day to complete it because he was sure I wasn’t going to work the whole day on it.

So why we need to have an office open, consuming energy and employees' time if they are sure they will not work the 8 hours?

The most logical answer is that our bosses don’t organize the projects correctly and they think they will need you during the day if they forget something.

But working from home, I realized that if all projects a company needs for a day are organized in a daily meeting, there is no need for me to be in front of the computer all day.

Even working this way is more efficient. Instead of extending my working hours to keep to a schedule, I could deliver everything I can as quickly as possible.

Our productivity hours are different for everyone

I’m a morning person. I can get up at 5:00 AM and do a lot of things. However, in the afternoon, my performance starts to drop.

For someone who works from home, this can be an advantage, you just have to keep getting up early, and you will have everything done.

But in an office, I waste the first 3 most productive hours of my day getting ready to go on a schedule, and getting up early to work will not be worth it if I have to stay in the company “working” anyway.

One of my partners is a night owl. He would arrive at work at 9:00 and could do absolutely nothing until 2:00 PM. So basically, the company was paying 8 hours to a resource that could only work 4.

With these examples, I concluded that if the companies let me deliver the projects I have to do in the day and leave, I would get up at 5:00 am to work, and I just have to go to the office to report.

If companies worked by projects instead of hours, we would be more efficient.

In a perfect world, we could be productive whenever we wanted.

Unfortunately, productivity is not as easy as just wish it; we experience ups and downs of energy and creativity.

Therefore, I do not consider it correct that we evaluate all employees by the ability they have to solve something at a specific time.

Some of my partners started making changes on the web at night, and they were reporting more tickets done than they normally did in the office.

Meanwhile, I have been waking up early to finish my tickets to have the day to make trading and write.

If our bosses try to contact us during the day, we will not be 100% available. I would be busy with other things and my friends sleeping.

So It would be unfair to evaluate ourselves for our ability to solve something between 8: 00am–5: 00 pm if we are being more efficient on our own schedule.

Quality is better than quantity

A phrase I always keep in mind and apply to everything in life is being busy does not mean being productive.

Imagine you have two employees, one of them gives you 10 tasks in 4 hours but doesn’t work in the afternoons. And the other works 8 hours, but only gives you 3 tasks. Who is working better?

That someone spends all day in front of a computer does not mean they are productive.

Likewise, if someone spends 4 hours playing and 4 hours working, it does not mean he is a bad employee.

We must begin to evaluate productivity by results, rather than by effort.

When I have been working for a long time, suddenly even the simplest task seems difficult to do. So that’s why I focus more on doing a good job when I can, instead of forcing my mind on something I’m sure in the end won’t be quality.

Our decision-making capacity falls with the hours

I feel like most of the bad decisions I’ve made in my life have been after 6 pm.

And this is not a coincidence.

As we make decisions throughout the day, our minds get tired. Making that while the day goes by, we start making bad decisions. This is called cognitive fatigue.

An example of this was a study done by Columbia University. The prisoners who received their trial during the mornings had up to a 65% chance of having a favorable judgment.

But as the morning progressed and the judge became “worn out” by continual decision making, those odds rapidly decreased to zero.

If it is proven that as we make more decisions, we begin to work worse, It does not make sense companies force us to continue doing it during the day.

Working for goals instead of a schedule has helped me make all the decisions during my most productive hours of the day; this way, my willpower is still available to make better decisions.

If companies focused on having tasks organized before starting the day, they would have better results when making decisions.

Creativity doesn’t happen while you are sitting at a desk

Every time I can’t solve a situation, I have to get up from the desk, change my environment and even leave the office for a little walk.

In fact, none of my best writing ideas came in front of the computer. They came when I’m doing a daily simple task like making dinner or having a conversation.

This happens because our creativity doesn’t work well when we focus on something analytical for a long time.

If our creativity does not work when we are sitting in front of a desk, it does not make sense to force us to spend 8 hours in front of it.

Working at home at my own pace teaches me to balance my work and the breaks I can take.

For example, I get up at 5 am to work until 9 am, then exercise, check the market, and prepare my food, and when I’m relaxed again, I check if I can finish something pending.

Usually, in the afternoon, I leave tasks I can do without thinking much, and then I can spend my time reading or learning something new.

Working this way, I don’t get stressed about pending tasks or do something mandatory to meet a schedule.

Final thoughts

Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it’s good.

Working on my own schedule made me realize all the things I could achieve on a day. Now I started another business in which I am currently earning 4 figures per month, and I have many new hobbies.

Sitting at a desk for 8 hours does not make you more productive or a better employee. But resolve when necessary and deliver what you have to do.

I understand we must change the way companies evaluate their employees and look for more up-to-date ways that really work to measure performance.

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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing and self-development advice. | Get your writing guide:

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