The 40 Hour Work Week is DEAD


Simply stated: The 40-hour Work Week is Dead.

This survey results concluded 50% of people reported working more than 40 hours per week. When I reflect on my entire career from the moment I graduated college, I have never experienced a 40-hour work week.

When I was a public school teacher, I was in my office at 6:30 AM and left around 9:00 PM when the janitor would knock on my door and let me know he is ready to leave (he needed to set the alarm). I’d like to say I was the only teacher he would check in with, but I cannot. This janitor would do a final walk through of the building to inform all of the teachers still working that the alarm would be set at X time. That 14.5-hour day still wasn’t enough. I would plan lessons and grade tests on the weekends. When you add it all up, I was committed to, at least, 80 hours of work a week. If you are now thinking that is impossible, it is. I lost so much weight my first year of teaching that by Christmas break, my ribs were exposed because I was, frankly, too busy and too tired to deal with eating balanced meals.

I went on to be a program director at a university, an operations chick for venture capitalism, an entrepreneur, and so on. While nothing else hit the 80 hours of teaching, everything following rocked a solid 60+ hours.


Workers are Fighting Back

With more routine jobs going to AI and automated tech, creative jobs are on the rise. But here is the thing…creativity dies with exhaustion. So workers, particularly millennials, are fighting for better work life balance, desirable schedules to nurture creativity, and frankly the straight up pay compensation for their solid efforts.

This isn’t isolated to Millennials, of course, but it appears their voice is currently the loudest on the issue.

If you actually think about the current 9-5 schedule (or really 8:00-5:00 as companies no longer pay for lunch time), this was a slightly varied business version of the agricultural work schedule, often 5:00 am – 2:00 pm. This variation was created by Henry Ford as a schedule for factories. It is based on how long people can perform manual and redundant tasks. It has little to no application in working a desk job.

It has even less application to sales people, who need to take breaks during the day, as their schedule is dictated by the client’s availability over multiple time zones.

A factory worker in 1900 didn’t have to modify their work schedule to accommodate a conference call to Singapore.


Some companies are tuned into new ideas of the workweek.

I’m a huge fan of the 4/10 schedule (4 days a week and 10 hours per day). Because very often, people are working 10 hours a day over all 5 days for the same salary pay, meaning they see nothing extra for their 25% increase in the time given.

Let’s think about this financial commitment for a moment. If you are paid a salary of $42,000 a year for 40 hours of work, this breaks down to $20.19 per hour. BUT if you give an extra 10 hours each week to your salary job, you have inadvertently reduced your hourly compensation to $16.15 per hour. If you put in 60 hours, it gets way low! Down to $13.46!!!! And when you hit the 80-hour mark, like so many teachers, you are now just slightly above minimum wage for a whopping $10.09 per hour.

If you didn’t understand the shortage of qualified teachers in the US, you do now!

Sadly, this isn’t isolated to salary positions. Often even hourly companies will work people over time but reprimand for OT hours claimed, or they feel they can work people as long and hard as they want because they are being compensated. If you deny working the crazy hours, you place your job at risk.


Silicone Valley companies are Destroying Shitty Policies

 Millennials are often criticized for being lazy with their strong desire to find companies that offer 32 hour work weeks complete with healthy time off packages, creative down time, and offer true work-life balance. Workers are applying by the droves for these positions.

And I don’t think lazy is part of this. The expectation for the output and quality requirements for those who get these jobs is a self-correcting element. The tasks are estimated at 32 hours, but how long it takes you to complete is in your hands. Your in-office time could be 50 hours a week if you struggle with time management.

The quality of your work for those hours MUST be in the top 1% of your field. You are held to extraordinary quality expectations. If you can achieve this in 32 hours, then you get to go home and cook that healthy dinner and go for that run and do everything you need to do to keep your mind healthy and thriving.

When you shift the value from face time to effective time management and work quality, everything changes for the work environment.


The numbers are the proof…

If you are a CEO and you think offering ok salary packages to people and working them for 1.5 full-time positions (60 hours) is saving your company money for the same output…you are a rather misguided CEO.

I hate to break it to you, but 120 hours over 2 people is NOT the same output of 120 hours over 3 people…naturally, you know this.

But you are not valuing time, are you?

You are valuing the cost of time in this situation.

Paying two people 50K a year vs 3 people 50K a year is the difference. Yet once fringe benefits, health costs, and employee turnover are considered, did you save your company money or did you cost your company productivity? Consider these 3 problems with working people OT. I would gamble you cost yourself both productivity and profit. With all things considered, by wasting away creative minds with exhaustion, you probably also sacrificed your competitive edge.



Focus, drive, creativity, ingenuity, and all of those wonderful things that produce the best work come from a healthy, fresh, mind that isn’t split stressing about work life balance.

Ultimately, what is right for your people’s health is also right for your business health too.

Check out this interesting article about the perfect time management!

Braedi Leigh