Do you often wonder how many hours are there in a week? When you are working a full-time job, the week can seem endless. The truth is that the number of hours in a work week depends on various factors.

40 Hours: Is That Too Many Hours In A Week?

The average workweek has 40 hours. Typically, that equates to five eight-hour days. However, the question is whether that is the most effective work week model. To answer whether a 40-hour work week is effective, we need to look at how workers use their time.

  • Primary job tasks: 45%
  • Administrative tasks, meetings, and interruptions: 40%
  • Email: 14%

As we see from these numbers, employees aren’t performing at 100% productivity levels. Of course, sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes, a break in focus can help to spur creativity and a renewed focus on job tasks.

How Many Hours Are There In A Week 

How Many Hours In A Week At Work Are Too Many?

Research indicates that more than 40 hours in a week at work can cause issues both for employers and employees. Those who work above that 40-hour mark can become overworked, leading to problems. People who typically work more than 40 hours a week have a higher risk of making mistakes. They tend to be less healthy and less productive than those who only work 40 hours.

40 Hours A Week: Is That Really How Many There Are?

The average work week is a 40-hour week, but most employees don’t stop at 40 hours. On average, many American workers continue working seven hours beyond their scheduled 40-hour week. Cell phones and laptops allow workers to plug into their offices from anywhere at any time.

In France, workers had such difficulty disconnecting that the government now requires companies with more than 50 workers to set “off-limits” hours for email communication. In fact, studies show that companies that are the most productive aren’t the ones that work the most hours in a week. How many hours are there in a week for workers in the most productive country, Luxembourg? The answer to that question is 29!

How Many Alternatives Are There to A 40-Hour Week?

How many hours are in a week for productive workers is a question that hasn’t yet been settled. Businesses are more open to alternatives to the usual 40-hour week. Let’s consider three of those alternatives along with the positives and negatives of each one.

Flextime

Flextime gives employees some control over how many hours are in their week. One flextime model allows people to decide when they will start and end their shifts. Flextime has other models as well. Remote work and telecommuting are flextime options, and employers are embracing these non-traditional models of a work week.

Positives to Flextime:

  • Choosing how many hours there are in a week at work allows you to customize your schedule. Every person in the workforce has different interests, time commitments, and priorities. Flextime allows you to set your schedule around your needs and the needs of those in your household. Whatever your routine is at home, flextime allows you to determine how many hours you have to work. 
  • How many hours are there in a week to achieve a work-life balance? You need to have a life outside of work. With a flextime schedule, employees can choose which parts of their day to focus on work and which parts should be dedicated to things outside of work. 

Negatives to Flextime:

  • How many hours there are in a week can be an issue when you are scheduling meetings and attempting to work with other people. If everyone in the company is working on a different schedule, you can have a difficult time with communication and project completion. One way to help with this issue is to schedule meetings that are set at the same time each week and have everyone at that meeting.
  • Allowing employees to choose how many hours they are there in a week can lead to difficulties for the management team. It can be challenging for managers to know which projects employees are working on and if they are struggling. Employees who are routinely working outside the office might feel left out of office activities. Honing communication skills is a must to successfully manage a team that operates on a flextime schedule.

How Many Hours Are There In A Compressed Work Week?

Working ten hours a day, four days a week is known as working a compressed work week. In this model, there are still 40 hours a week, but that week is shortened. Employees tend to like having alternatives to a standard work week, like a compressed work week.

Positives to A Compressed Work Week:

  • Every week has a three-day weekend when the company works with a compressed work week. This structure gives employees a day off without dipping into their vacation or sick leave. They continue to get their full-time hours and pay while having a guaranteed day off every week.
  • How many hours are in a work week contributes to your commute time. Less commute time saves you money on fuel and helps the environment by reducing emissions.

Negatives to A Compressed Work Week:

  • Working a 10-hour day every day can be exhausting. Those extra hours cause an extra drain on both your mental and physical well-being. Being exhausted can decrease productivity and the quality of your work.
  • The 10-hour schedule can keep employees from meeting their obligations outside of work. They may find they have less time to complete chores and outside activities because while they have one less day on their work calendar, they also have fewer hours in the evening.

A 32-Hour Work Week

This work model easily answers the question of how many hours are in a week. This model is a four-day work week with eight-hour days. This model is something that has gotten mixed results.

Positives to a 32-Hour Work Week

  • This model combines the benefits of a three-day weekend every week and the eight-hour workday. Employees will likely enjoy a more balanced work-life relationship and, therefore, greater happiness levels.
  • This model’s number of hours in a week can lead to greater productivity. Workers understand they have fewer hours to complete tasks, so they often manage their time better.

Negatives to a 32-Hour Work Week

  • Some workers find that a 32-hour week doesn’t have many hours to complete tasks. When workers feel there aren’t many hours in a week, they can feel stressed about completing their tasks.
  • Some industries are customer focused, and those industries may find a 32-hour work week challenging to implement. Some of these industries include real estate or sales. A 32-hour work week doesn’t meet the norm of how many hours there are in a typical work week. That means some competitors may not embrace this model as quickly as others.

How to Determine How Many Hours To Have In A Week At Work

When choosing a work model, you should first consider the company’s goals. When choosing your work week, you should consider if moving away from the traditional 40-hour work week will be detrimental to your productivity. What are your production goals?

Another consideration is your workforce. Do you have a diverse mix of people? Consider how many of your team need additional hours outside of the work week to complete their tasks, or can everything be done during the allotted time? ‘

Competition is a consideration when determining whether to move to a less traditional format. Some fields are great for non-traditional work weeks, while others can find these models hinder their ability to do business. Customer service-oriented businesses may find that a non-traditional number of hours in a workweek costs them money. On the other hand, manufacturing companies could find that an alternative to the 40-hour work week benefits their productivity.

How Many Hours In A Week: A Brief History of the 40-Hour Work Week

Because we know the 40-hour week as the typical model, we often forget that it hasn’t always been the standard. As a matter of fact, the 40-hour week didn’t become the standard practice in the US until 1940. A push for better working conditions that began in 1817 after the Industrial Revolution was the beginning of the move to a 40-hour work week. When that push began, it was customary for people to work anywhere from 80 to 100 hours a week.

From that 1817 push to the 1940 implementation of the new 40-hour work week as the standard, there were quite a few ups and downs. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant implemented 8-hour work days for government employees. In 1886, Illinois passed a law mandating 8-hour days that led to a strike and a deadly bomb.

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed. That act required overtime pay for anything over 44 hours. Two years later, in 1940, the US made a 40-hour work week law.

Final Thoughts

A 40-hour work week is the standard in the US. However, several alternative models allow flexibility when choosing how many hours to work in a week. When determining how many hours to work each week, companies have several considerations to make.

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