Mitrefinch logo

Why Eight Hours?

Published: April 1, 2016

Have you ever wondered why the default length of the modern working day tends to be eight hours?

As it turns out, the concept is actually close to 200 years old. It goes way back to Robert Owen, a Welsh social reformer, who noted the increasingly long working hours around the beginnings of the industrial revolution, where 10-16 hour days were increasingly being considered normal. He campaigned to have employees work no more than 8 hours a day under the slogan, ‘Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest’. Slowly gaining momentum, the 8 hour day became widely adopted once Ford Motor Company tried out the idea with success.

But with today’s ever-increasing emphasis on high individual employee productivity, is it time to look a bit deeper, for a more innovative solution to staff scheduling and the working day than a two-century-old ideal? Matt Deans thinks so, and in his recent opinion pieceasked if efficiency could be improved with, ‘a three-day weekend, justified by longer working hours over four days to achieve the standard 38-hours.’

The body of evidence suggesting that more time does not necessarily equal greater productivity is rather compelling. For example, employees in the Netherlands work the shortest week of any nation, at just 29 hours, but the country still somehow ranks in the top 5 most productive nations on the planet. Meanwhile, Harvard Review studies indicate better schedules of work and rest can result in more work done in less time.

In Canada, flexible work arrangements (or alternatives to the traditional working day and week due to personal or family commitments) are supported by organizations such as Work & Family Foundation Canada, through research, employee advice and help for employers. There is also Canada’s Top Family Friendly Employers program, which recognizes companies’ efforts to offer flexible arrangements for working parents.

Could your organization benefit from the efficient employee scheduling capabilities of Mitrefinch TMS software? The system allows complex staff schedules to be created easily using pay rates, availability, and predefined skills, enabling managers to allow more flexible and agile schedules for staff.

Don't waste time

Empower your teams with integrated Time and Attendance and HR solutions