Magazine article Risk Management

Working for the Weekend

Magazine article Risk Management

Working for the Weekend

Article excerpt

If you work the typical 9-to-5, eight-hour grind, there are days when it seems like the clock is going backwards and quitting time will never arrive. Those eight hours stretch into eternity, as if you're paying a penance for some unknown transgression, most likely committed over a weekend that went by as fast as the workday was slow. Such is the burden of the modern worker. But it wasn't always this way. Sometimes it was much worse.

In the late 18th century, during the Industrial Revolution, workers usually put in 10 to 16 hours a day, six days a week. While this pace kept the factories running, it was physically and mentally draining. Labor reform advocates began calling for an eighthour standard, spearheaded by Welsh reformer Robert Owen's slogan, "Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest." Shorter workdays were adopted by some professions--usually after protests and strikes--but over the next century, change was slow and sporadic.

But in 1914, much to the dismay of its competitors, the Ford Motor Company not only cut its workday to eight hours but also doubled workers' pay. When productivity actually increased and profit margins doubled in just two years, most other companies followed Henry Ford's lead and the eight-hour workday became standard. A century later, a 9-to-5 workday remains the basic expectation for most jobs.

These days, however, advances in technology usually mean that many of us are "unofficially" working even when we're not in the office, often long past "quitting" time. Many organizations have also adopted flexible work arrangements in which employees can vary their hours or work remotely as dictated by their needs and the needs of the business. It's a strategy that places more value on maximizing productivity and getting results than it does on making sure employees are chained to their desks at specific times of the day. …

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