The Future Of Work: 5 Hour Days?

in LeoFinance4 months ago

There are a number of conversations and experiments taking place around the world regarding the approach to work. What was taken for granted just a few years ago, a 40 hour work we, is not such a given anymore. With the impending threat from automation, many are looking for possible alternatives.

One of the avenues that people are considering is the idea of altering the working hours. Some companies are experimenting with a 4 day week while others are even going as far as to try a 5 hour work day.

Here is an article that discusses some of the approaches:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/05/28/the-future-of-work-will-be------------five-hour-days-a-four-day-workweek-and-flexible-staggered-schedules/

Is this going to be the norm down the road?

To be honest, it is a topic that was discussed a great deal over the last few decades. As automation posed a threat to employment, people started to wonder what the future of work would hold. Thus far, very little has changed.

Well, at least that was the case before COVID-19. Since that time, many, on both sides of the equation are re-evaluating their position. This is causing many to point out that workers are not willing to return to work. Low end jobs are getting very tough to fill.

Basically, workers are saying that we are not returning to the same crappy low-end positions for awful pay. This is upsetting to businesses which are going to respond with more automation.

But what about the jobs that are not automated out? Are we going to see a change in our approach to work?


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This is hard to say. The idea of a lot less hours was discussed for decades. While it seems like a non-starter, it has happened before. A century ago, the 40 hour workweek was uncommon. People were toiling away for much longer hours per day, 6 days a week. This led to the formation of unions to combat these conditions. Laws were also enacted to assist in this measure (along with outlawing child labor). Of course, the Great Depression was helpful in this endeavor since jobs disappeared in great quantity.

There is a good chance we see this repeated, with or without a major economic downturn. Automation is coming and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Corporations, in the end, want it since it does reduce labor costs, thus enhancing profitability.

A shorter workweek would really help the work-life balance that has become a legitimate topic of conversation over the last decade. If anything, this was turned up a notch as people were able to spend more time with their children and enjoy some extracurricular activities, at least to some degree, over the past year. Suddenly, all the time spent at the office doesn't make a ton of sense to a lot of people.

As for the 4 day week, or 5 hour work day, there is not a ton of evidence that points to its success. Part of the problem is that we have only a few cases to focus upon. As the article shows, there are only a couple of firms that toyed with a 5 hour day. Sadly, their results were not great.

That does not mean the concept is bad. There are always exceptions to anything and it is possible that the companies has the wrong employee mix for that to succeed. Some do better with the longer hours in a more structured environment.

Where will all of this lead? It is really hard to say. Obviously there are some jobs that simply are not cut out for this most likely. For example, can you put emergency services personnel on a shorter day? How about doctors and nurses? Anywhere there is a shortage of professionals is also apt to be difficult.

What are your thoughts? how do you see all this playing out?


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The good thing about automation is because the work that previously needed expensive labor, after automation will be cheap, but its disadvantage because it will take the work away from almost everyone, and robots would go working in the factories will . And how people would buy things from these factories if they can't afford it ?

But if the automation is done in farms and the food sector, everything will be cheap, but many people will be without a job, and maybe they would think then to create a basic universal income, which is what they predent to do, and people will live like a zoo, and whoever has power will become king, and the people with nothing to do.

After all, what sense would that make? So, I believe that there will be no automation, because if people don't have the money to buy, why would the factories do things?


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Well automation is coming as it always has. That said, not all jobs will be automated but many of them. Which brings up the questions you are raising. This is something nobody has an answer for.

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The counterforce is people now working from home but being expected to answer phone, email, texts, etc. not quite 24/7.

Then there’s the hourly/salaried dichotomy. Although that distinction might become blurred at some point.

There certainly is the trend towards many who do work from home putting in 70-90 hours and it being expected.

I wonder how long until there is a massive backlash against many of these corporations and the culture that is being (was) established.

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Well, covid has given business owners a reckoning, and owners of office buildings are not in a happy position. Some people thing the "robo-pocalypse" is over-hyped. I think so too. If someone replaced your favorite bartender with a robot, the experience of going to that bar just would not be the same- bartenders/barmaids make the best therapists!

Besides, we can all abuse robots pretty easily, when you think about it.

Robots are just a piece of the puzzle. Right now, the much bigger trend in automation is with software. And that is much harder to abuse.

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Honestly I see it happening and it should happen. A 40 hour work week for a majority of jobs is way too much and it's been proven that nearly half of that is wasted time!

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That is true. There is a lot of time wasted during the workday. I agree that 40 hour workweek is passe considering how far we came with automating the production of the basic necessities in life.

However, to get an entire society to switch is not easy. Also, corporations want increased production since that is where their revenues come from. So they are going to continue to squeeze all they can out of people.

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Here in Latin America where wealth is so poorly distributed making this the most unequal region in the world, the reduction of working hours would translate into more jobs for one person, i.e., in the face of reduced wages, less hours to dedicate to work, therefore, the working population will have more hours to find a second or third job to generate the same income as it did as a single 8-hour job.

On this side of the world the automation of work is a utopia, not to mention the reduction of working hours, not to mention that the peasant sector, for example, is much more backward than in developed countries, therefore the workforce dedicated to planting food performs exploitative schedules and earn slave wages, without considering the dumping applied by rich countries with their abusive systems of subsidies that makes it cheaper to import food than to plant it in your own country.

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Here in Latin America where wealth is so poorly distributed....

That is everywhere regardless of the geographic region. And it is a situation where the wealth inequality is just growing.

The United States has the problem just as bad as Latin America. The only difference is the numbers in the US are bigger.

But broke is still broke.

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This book laid out the math of how to do 4 hour days over 100 years ago.

A shorter work week would be inspiring to bring the balance to a more rounded quality of life which includes time for deeper things like family and health and consciousness. However, from what I understand the Chinese are the opposite. They are driven to working more than we do in the west, a six or seven day work week. As kids they are schooled to the max, with extra lessons etc all day long. They will certainly not be cooling off from their immense work ethic.

I guess it depends on what the work is that you do. I don't work for a boss and do what I like and I like to sit at my computer "working" seven days a week all day long, besides the odd social or outdoor activity to keep a balance. Otherwise I love what I do so it's not even work, although much work is done in the form of writing and curating and researching or learning, or trading lol. But it feels like fun as opposed to work.

I presume by work we mean time given to a boss in exchange for salary. AI could really shift that paradigm, and already work from home has shifted the parameters recently.

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Certainly there are those situations that you find yourself in. However, that does not seem to be the norm. Surveys find that 80% of the people detest their jobs. That is a lot of unhappy people spending many hours a week doing stuff they despise.

I think that is the category that this type of research is targeting.

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I know Sweden has promoted the 6 hour work day. A couple of companies tried it and it was quite successful in the way that employees were happier and healthier and the productivity often stayed the same.
https://www.replicon.com/blog/five-takeaways-from-swedens-six-hour-workday-policy/

People need time to reenergize and by making longer days your productivity goes down.

Although the experiments had good positive results they went back to the old 8 hours because it was still too expensive.

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Although the experiments had good positive results they went back to the old 8 hours because it was still too expensive.

It is always interesting how that happens. Hence why things take so long to change from a societal level. Even when something is proven successful, instead of trying to find ways to make it less expensive, they just revert back.

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I wonder if we will really have a work week. Won't we just have work 24/7 but most of the time will be on-call? This way machines do the work but people come in when they are needed.

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That is an interesting point and one to consider. Already many are finding the work from home is no bargain since they are always "at the office", hence something to do. It is an interesting discussion as we can find pros and cons on all sides of these discussions.

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Many people aren't aware of why we work 40 hrs a week. In particular in the United States it has alot to do with the Jewish Sabbath. If you're aware of how the sabbath works.. it runs from something like sundown friday evening to saturday evening.

So it started with Henry Ford big production lines having to stop due to this religious observance. So Henry Ford was like forget the entire thing we'll just close it down since we have to stop the line anyway.

This is what i mean. In society you give people a system they don't question it, they just will go full steam ahead with it. Many people are lazy they don't wanna think about anything. It's easier to just get in it and go. let someone else deal with it.

So this doesn't really have anything to do with production from a worker. If i hire 5 guys to do a job. They all work at different production levels. I got the guy does more than his share for the week. I got the guy does just enough and the other who just shows up.. just a body there. We have this on every job.

So what this is really about .. or is mostly about now is people performing meaningless repetitive tasks that either they shouldn't have to do or won't be doing in the near future. The reasoning is in some weird universe they feel like by having people do dumb repetitive tasks they don't need to do that it is giving them meaning in life".

As if they are not in any shape or form capable of producing meaning out of life for themselves because they say, lol. I don't think every conversation should end and " ubi is the answer". However even in terms of reducing the work week. It's really about trading off time and energy for money. So yes ubi would by default be reducing that down.

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You nailed it. People do just accept a system as it is, without research or question. They also believe that how things are now is how it was always. For example, we take the corporation for granted yet we know that, in its present form, this is only a 200 year old innovation. Before the massive need for fundraising to build the railroads in the US, the corporation was very rare.

Now they are basically running our lives.

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Exactly people don't think for themselves and because they don't. Others will decide for them They wanna think for themselves after the systems they are part of are in session. They don't wanna think for themselves before they are put into motion.

They don't wanna look for another way. They don't wanna find a better system. So in those cases it's easier to just go well i'm going to follow the system because i sure as hell not going to do anything about it. I'm not going to build a system that aims to do anything about it. I"m not going to support a system that aims to do anything about it.

I"m going to move right along. It's easier to just be honest and say i plan to do absolutely nothing about the systems how they are.. As i'm going to complain a little bit from time to time but i'm really not going to do anything about it. In crypto what happens in crypto. Let me show you what happens the crypto community models a capitalistic replica of the same systems that we complain about now.

Who are the banks? The banks are the centralized crypto exchanges we use at a rate of 95%. Who are the whales? The whales are the 1% that dominate our society and cryptocurrency in a ratio worse than the system we complain about.

Who are the corporations? The corporations are actually here they own all the major cryptocurrencies and control them in almost the same exact ratio as they do with our systems in real life.. the ethereum's the bitcoins etc.,

Most of cryptocurrency doesn't support ubi projects that could actually in any real significant way decentralize the network. As here's an interesting news flash. Bitcoin is not decentralized. I don't believe any real economist believes that or any knowledgable crypto person who's really knowledgable. We know about internet knowledge. Ubi projects perform worse than any projects because people in crypto rather support corporate controlled cryptocurrenices that produce an infographic worse than the standard economies lol.

Are we brain dead? We gotta be if we don't understand this. It's insane but because people are either too lazy to care.. too brainwashed to care too i rather not have to worry about it just can i make more money and be a wealthier slave in the system, as you're still a slave under the standard system even if you're a rich slave. They don't care enough to do anything about it. Thats a severe character flaw.

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My father already has a coiled daily schedule and from what I know Holland had quite a few companies that had Monday to Thursday working hours. Work as we know it is definitely going through a shift.

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It will be a process to see how things change. There will be an evolution so it is tough to target where things are going. Over time, we could end up seeing a ton of "experiments", many which are tossed aside.

A few will take hold though.

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Shorter workdays might lead to lesser pay, or isn't that the case? It can't be achieved with all professions, meaning more pay for those who are indispensable.

However, this encourages not only more family time but also self-employment, so I guess this means their indirectly trying to encourage capitalism??

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It would stand to reason that workers would get less pay for the less time worked. Corporations would likely get less productivity, or that is what they will claim, hence they should pay less.

There are pros and cons throughout this entire discussion.

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I would rather have a 4 day work week than shorter hours, but I work in a hospital so I doubt these changes will ever apply to me

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I think it's awesome even to just have alternatives openly discussed!

How many of us can say that we've worked for companies or bosses that refuse even for a second consider doing something different than how it's been done in the past?

There's still a ton of "old school" managers and business leaders out there but gradually they'll retire away into the sunset and possibly (hopefully) giveaway to a new generation that's more open to exploring alternatives and their potential benefits. I think now in business more than ever before it's painfully clear that those companies pushing for innovation are the ones that succeed and thrive in an ever changing landscape.

I believe this same mentality around being dynamic and innovative is the same mindset that would be open to trying new work arrangements for employees. Change takes a long time sometimes, often too long, but like you point out this recent virus business may be the catalyst that gets the ball rolling a little faster.

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I think lawyers have already perfected the system with billable hours. Sometimes they charge for hours they didn't even work. Ever heard the joke about the young lawyer who died and went to heaven? He complained that it wasn't his time yet but was told based on the hours he billed he must be an old man.😄