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Why The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work For Millennials



Why The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work For Millennials

Here’s why we feel the proverbial 9 to 5 culture doesn’t work anymore

The millennial generation has been sufficiently bashed and labelled as lazy and dependant on technology. To speak on behalf of millennials – that is people born between 1980 and 2000- we aren’t lazy, we just do things differently. And we use technology to make our lives easier (say this to a proud baby boomer the next time they can’t figure out how to download an app).

Just because we spend some time Facebooking or Youtubing at work doesn’t mean we’re any less productive.

Most of us are in our early years of employment – young, energetic, full of ideas, and ready to change the way the workplace functions.

Here’s why we feel the proverbial 9 to 5 workday doesn’t work anymore:

When you work 8 hours a day, it’s very difficult to accomplish much else

It’s never really 8 hours, right?

Add the additional hours of commuting during peak hours, and throw in another hour or two for extra work or project meetings. That’s more than 10 hours invested in your workday.

Assuming the recommended sleep hours (8 hours) is what you stick to, you’ve only got 6 hours left to do everything else.

How is one expected to get the time to exercise, cook dinner, clean, spend time with family,  nurture a hobby, and socialise?

Can you achieve the same amount of work in 5 hours?

Consider a regular working day and think about how much work you get done in 8-10 hours.

Could you accomplish the same amount of work in say, 5 hours? It’s possible.

Ayush Ram*, a 23-year-old entrepreneur, believes that if the work is interesting to you, you’ll surely finish it faster and better. “Give me the work, give me a deadline, and leave the rest to me. How and when I do it is upto me, as long as I deliver it when it’s due,” he says.

Sure enough, if you focus on work alone for those 5 hours (taking short breaks as required) you’ll find that you end up completing more work than you would in an 8-10 hour day filled with distractions and longer breaks.

Moreover, many of us prefer to get home sooner, avoid the peak hour jam, and complete some part of the work at home. Isn’t that more efficient than warming the bench in office?

It’s hard for the mind and body to be productive for 8 hours straight

We all have different energy levels at different hours in the day – that’s where the concept of early birds and night owls comes in.

You may charge through work at 9 am, but another person would just about start being productive only at 1 pm.

Radha Nair*, who works at a 9 to 5 setup, says that sometimes a strategy or idea strikes at night, so she starts working on it immediately.

“In that case, it’s really difficult to wake up early the next day and get back to work, because I haven’t really got enough rest.”

Our energy levels determine our productivity, and you surely can’t force productivity nor creativity to flow for 8 hours straight. Eagerly waiting for lunch hour and counting minutes till you leave work, are sure shot signs of  being unproductive!

Until we see the change…

If your job profile demands you being in office for 8-10 hours, taking short breaks through the day will help.

Don’t try to squeeze in other work – such as returning calls or checking emails – during that period. Radha admits that her break time often involves “walking down to the bank to finish some work.”

But that doesn’t rest nor refresh your mind and body. Ideal breaks should include going for a walk, getting a snack, or anything that actually gives you a break from screen and phone time.

Several startups are now offering flexible work hours because they realise the futility of the dated 9 to 5 structure. They’re more open to hiring millennials for their ideas, energy, and fluency with technology – as opposed to how much time they can spend at work.

That begs the question: will larger, established organisations be open to this change?

*Names changed for privacy

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar




Jasmine is a 22-year-old media student who describes her self as an ambivert. Passionate about working for a cause, she wants to extend her skills in the social development space. When away from work, you'll probably find her at the gym. She's currently struggling to strike a balance between her love for all things sweet, and her new-found interest in fitness. Jasmine's travel bucket list is constantly updated with new places to see in the world.

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