Working 40+ Hours – A Myth or Reality for the Self-Employed?
When it comes to clocking in 40 or more work hours every week, most people associate it with holding a full-time job at a traditional office. But what about the self-employed or those who work from home? Are they really putting in the same amount of working hours?
A self-employed individual works independently and often on a flexible schedule. There’s no one hovering over their shoulder, watching their every move and monitoring their productivity levels. As a result, they may end up working lesser hours than those who are employed in a traditional office setting.
As a self-employed individual who works from home, Laura Vanderkam conducted an experiment to determine whether she was actually working for the same amount of time as she would in a traditional full-time job. She measured the hours she spent on “actual” work that included writing, making phone calls, responding to emails, and marketing. What she found out may come as a surprise to some.
She realized that she does work for 40 hours every week, but these hours aren’t structured into a typical 9-5 workday. Laura found that she was able to complete administrative and business development tasks in the mornings and do heavy lifting writing in the late afternoons, when her energy levels were highest.
Moreover, she found that despite her high productivity rates, her rate of efficiency during the “traditional” 9 to 5 workday was not that great. This can also be said for most people who work in full-time jobs. People have the ability to focus intensely for a few hours at a time, after which their energy slackens, and they need a brain break to process new information effectively.
Most workplaces do not cater to these human energy cycles. Therefore, employees are expected to work for 8 hours straight, and they are likely kidding themselves if they think they’re being productive after a certain point. This unproductive period often involves mindlessly clicking on social media platforms or staring into space, which is not good for anyone.
Impact on Productivity
Laura’s experiment highlights the need for a change in productivity cycles. People are most effective when they can set their own hours and take breaks when their energy depletes, thus enhancing their creativity, analytical abilities, and strategic thinking. Today, technology has made it possible to work from home, regardless of a physical office.
However, even in self-employment, employees have faced the limitations of working from home, with fewer stimuli and constant virtual meeting fatigue. The right cultural and environmental factors can make all the difference. Employers should encourage flex-time and allow employees to come and go as they please, provided they are getting the work done. Fitness and recreation programs onsite or nearby will also serve as a good break from the monotony of work.
The idea of working 40+ hours may seem like a myth on the surface, but in reality, it’s only the structure of work that needs to change. The future of work requires employers to embrace new working patterns to give their employees the autonomy they need to maximize productivity. Long breaks, flex-time, recreational activities, and an open culture where employees can communicate with their colleagues are the need of the hour. Only then can we leave behind the inefficiency that comes with working 9 to 5, and instead work smart and not necessarily hard.