What’s wrong about the 40 hour work-week ?

While I’m still pretty young, I think I have a word to say about the way we work together as of 2014. Of course not everyone works like I’m writing in this post, and this may be a bit too opinionated because I very often have thoughts about how bad this is. I have already worked at 5 different companies as an employee, done some contract work twice and am currently one of the three co founders of an other company called beequick. beequick has one main product : a CRM specialized for Junior-entreprises. We have been working on this company totally remotely since more than a year now, and everything is working fine. I think I work between 4 and 10 hours a week for beequick.

You can’t be productive for 40 hours in a week

Yes, I truly believe that. They are mainly two problems with the 40 hour work week: The first being the interruptions: If you work at a company where people come and go to ask questions (which is usually the case), you probably rarely get 1 hour of time where you are fully concentrated. Interruptions are exactly what makes your day inproductive:

It separates your work day into work moments.

37 Signals

Yes, you hear all the time that whenever you get interrupted, you need 15 minutes to re-concentrate. I think you probably can’t even come back exactly at the same state as you were before the interruption, and if you’re able to do that, it probably requires a lot of (unnecessary) effort. The second being that companies don’t care about productivity. What they care about is how much you work.

Do you work 40 hours a week or more ? Yes ? Then fine, continue like this.  // I don’t care about your speed

A random company

Projects, blog posts, reports, take months to be done while they could be done in weeks or even days.

The way productivity happens has changed

While it might be a good idea to measure productivity with the time you put in it if you work in a factory, this is especially not true in the software companies. Programming, designing, and all of the modern jobs are not physical jobs. Everything employees do is taking decisions. Unlike physical jobs, it’s not how much time in a day you work on a problem that will output most of the good decisions. It is more about how good you know the problem, what your past experiences were, etc…  There’s also a huge factor that comes in : you need to take care of your mental health : reading a lot helps, talking with people from different horizons, eating healthy food and also doing regularly physical activity.

Employee happiness matters (more than ever ?)

40 years ago, people had to leave their hometown to find somewhere to work. Now we have all that countless stuff that permits us to collaborate despite of the distance: Trello, Basecamp, Hipchat, … we shouldn’t have to care that much about working all on the same place, on the same hours. More and more people (especially the ones that care about productivity) don’t want to be constrained by rules that make it impossible for them to have a fulfilled life, like being far from their family, from their friends or their favorite activities.

Try to hire remotely and stop to force your employees to work for a specific time.


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