In an 8-Hour Day, the Average Worker Is Productive for This Many Hours |

Melanie Curtin for

In the late 18th century, 10-16 hour workdays were normal because factories “needed” to be run 24/7. When it became clear that such long days were both brutal and unsustainable, leaders like Welsh activist Robert Owen advocated for shorter workdays. In 1817, his slogan became: “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

Now, the workday is ripe for another disruption. This is due in part to research that suggests that in an 8-hour day, the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes.

This doesn’t surprise me. Most people have many unproductive meetings that are disguised as work, but aren’t really work. This is why companies who value what a person does, instead of how long their butt is in a seat, are better equipped for the future.

To me, the eight hour requirement from most companies doesn’t make sense when you need people’s brains to output. I’m hard pressed to think of any job where it makes sense. Companies like to call their employees “assets” or “resources”, but at the end of the day are only human. Humans have bad days, they say things they don’t mean, they worry, they mourn. It’s stupid for companies to expect machine-like results from beings who are everything but.