Join InHerSight's growing community of professional women and get matched to great jobs and more!
Sign Up
Already have an account? Log in
[production]
Rate Now

Why The Eight-Hour Workday Is Hurting Your (and My) Productivity

If you can’t stay focused at work, you’re not alone

Imagine this — It’s 3 p.m., you’re sitting at your desk surrounded by billowing clouds of steam erupting from your third cup of coffee, and you’re researching cheap flights to the Caribbean instead of finishing your report due tomorrow. Sound familiar?

Turns out, you’re hardly alone when it comes to staying on task at work. Multiple coffee breaks and afternoon slumps are definitely a commonplace. A study of 2,000 full-time employees revealed that the average worker only spends around three hours actually working. For the rest of the five hours, most people pass the time perusing social media, reading the news, making food, and chatting with coworkers.

The concept of the eight-hour workday was actually born during the Industrial Revolution (in the 1700’s) in an attempt to make the workday more bearable since it was previously standard to work 10-16 hour days. However, research shows that humans can only concentrate for 20 minutes at a time, indicating that the eight-hour workday is not conducive to productivity.

One major problem with the 9-5 day is that we all have different working habits. Similar to how we eat meals or go to bed at different times, we’re all more productive at different hours. Some of us can crank out all of our work in 3 hours, some prefer to do all work at night, and some prefer to spread it out over multiple hours with breaks in between. Since the eight-hour workday is inherently pretty inflexible, it comes as no surprise that some people suffer from lower productivity throughout the day.

In addition, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson says that performance flatlines towards the end of the day. Since the average worker spends only three hours working, pushing people past their maximum concentration capacity is harmful to productivity.

With these downsides, the demand for remote work and flexible work days is becoming increasingly common and popular. Many companies are experimenting with shorter work days and work weeks — several have implemented a 32-hour work week and have witnessed happier, more productive employees.

Ready to move out of the 18th century? Check out these companies that are excelling in offering flexible hours. Now, back to my Caribbean flight search...

By Cara Hutto

Born and raised a Tar Heel, Cara is a culinary aficionado and zealous writer consumed by wanderlust. She's passionate about women's issues and interviewing inspirational women in her community.

Share this article

By Cara Hutto

Contributor

Cara Hutto is a freelance writer and the former assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, culture, and food, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Don't Miss Out

Create a free account to get unlimited access to our articles and to join millions of women growing with the InHerSight community

Continue with social media or...

If you already have an account, click here to log in. By signing up, you agree to InHerSight's Terms and Privacy Policy

Rate Your Company

Your experience in the workplace matters! Anonymously share your feedback on a current or former employer. It only takes three minutes!

About InHerSight

InHerSight is the career navigator for working women. Founded on the belief that data measurement leads to advancement, we manage the largest database of women-rated companies, and we use those insights to match our users to jobs and companies where they can achieve their goals. Anonymously rate your current or former employer now to unlock our one-of-a-kind resources.