The typical American work week has tethered the 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday range over several decades and a few generations. 40 hours each week, 50 weeks a year (assuming one takes two weeks of vacation) gives us a national collective average of 2,000 full days spent in the office. Inc.com suggests that entrepreneurs clock in even more hours than this average—coming in at 52 weekly work hours with many surpassing 60. Yikes.
Hard work is something that we tend to boast about. But should we really be working that many hours?
The answer, according to science, is NO. Sara Robinson (Salon) fleshed out the origins of the typical 40-hour workweek and explores why working more than 40 hours actually isn’t effective for delivering our best work. Research has shown that every hour worked over 40 in a week is actually making you less productive over both the short and long term. Reason being, because an eight-hour work day where we only tend to be awake for a total of 14-16, is actually a surefire way to experience burnout—which can take longer to recover from than mononucleosis.
So the solution is easy, don’t work over 40 hours per week and you’ll be fine, right? Wrong. These calculations are ignoring one critical factor to consider, every person works differently. Think about what time of day and under what circumstances you are most productive. For our morning people, no coffee is required and quality work can be done at a whopping 7-am. Others were not so blessed, only getting their best work done when their laptop is brought home and the insomnia sets in. Some work best when they first receive an assignment, while others deliver optimum results down to the wire of the deadline. Some prefer to take naps after lunch, others take no lunch break at all. Some people work best in a cubicle, while others thrive in a communal, social space. You get the point. Even still, some workers can produce a quality report in an hour, while a coworker may be more of a perfectionist and take three hours to deliver a comparable result.
But if our work habits are seemingly just as individual as our personalities, why do we all stick to the same regimented office workweek?
Some companies have caught on and responded with more flexibility and control in employees work schedules—allowing them to work from home or work remotely, where they can essentially choose their own office environment and productivity hours. Another up and coming way to address the issue and evolve our workweek tradition has been through the rise of coworking spaces, which allow whole companies and solo remote workers to work alongside each other in a flexible, communal space.
“Flexible” not only means that you can choose your exact work environment to best fit your ideal work conditions (from private office, to buzzing on-site coffee shop or café). But for our more-often-than-not, overworked entrepreneurs and growing businesses, coworking spaces actually allow you to grow and progress just as quickly as you need, with plenty of office space for rent, which can always be modified when you bring in new talent. For night owls, coworking spaces offer 24/7 facility access, so you can be in your office any time you’d like, and productivity ruts or creative blocks are fought off with countless community workshops, networking events, and much more.
So the question still remains, is there a magic number for the amount of hours we should be working each week? The answer is that it’s different for everyone, and while it takes time to change tradition, there are still ways to provide our ideal productive selves and employees, with the best possible, flexible work environment to suit individual needs…like coworking spaces.
Bridgeworks is a vibrant coworking space right by the beach on Long Island, NY, offering office space for rent, meeting rooms, networking events and much more. Bridgeworks Long Beach also features countless communal spaces, cafés, lounges and added bonuses like social bikes and ping pong. Corporate NYC commuters and digital nomads alike take advantage of the new creative hub to network, boost productivity, and of course, cut the commute time. Learn more at www.bridgeworkslongbeach.com.