Britain’s Tolpuddle Martyrs are often recognised as forerunners to modern trade unions, whose efforts sought to improve pay and working conditions for farm workers. Meanwhile, the eight-hour day movement - ‘eight hours labour; eight hours recreation; eight hours rest’ - introduced the concept of work-life balance in the early 1800’s, although this particular model was not officially adopted until almost a century later.
Gradually, working conditions improved. This radical idea sought to protect productivity by not exhausting the labour force. It slowly took root, and is now upheld in 52 countries. The celebration of Labour Day, May Day, and International Worker’s Day in many countries, originated from this eight-hour day movement. Fast-forward to our modern era, and the battle for our ideal balance continues: a care home in Sweden famously trialled 6-hour work days; New Zealand recently experimented with a 4-day week; meanwhile, American entrepreneur Tim Ferris argues for a 4-hour week.
It’s very easy to get burnt out. Increasingly, organisations – and countries – are recognising that shorter individual working periods can benefit overall productivity. Research has suggested that shorter, more intense periods are beneficial in creative work, physical exercise, and study sessions. It might not come as a surprise that getting the work-life balance right is all the more important if you are trying to juggle multiple responsibilities at once.
Focus on well-being
Effective scheduling is an important skill to have, and the core purpose of this skill is making time for tasks and responsibilities. However, many of us can attest to how a tight schedule can leave us highly strung and run down, with seemingly no opportunities for rest.
There is a method to this madness of reducing work hours (without reducing pay). Whether this change amounts to fewer hours per day, or fewer work days in the week, the goal is to improve the overall well-being of the workforce. By allowing staff to benefit from more available time, organisations have found their employees are less stressed, and are more focussed on the tasks at hand.
Whereas at one time, any progress was the result of manual labour, we are fortunate to live in an era of automation and artificial intelligence which may result in productivity increases, but a decrease in the need for long hours spent toiling away. These extra hours of personal time can mean the world to hard-working employees. This could be spent with family, creating a healthier and more active lifestyle away from the desk, or discovering opportunities for personal development.
Everything in moderation
Down-time is an important component of any schedule; time away allows you to process, and recuperate. This is true for our work schedules, effective exercise routines, and most importantly, how we learn. If you’ve decided to include something into your life, such as studying for a new qualification or learning a new skill, you will need to make adequate space for it.
Even if you can’t make the switch to shorter working hours in your current position, by carefully scheduling your time, you can still find a space for your own personal development. In all of our online programmes, London School of Business & Finance utilises a learning method known as ‘chunking,’ which aims to benefit the learning process by portioning subjects into more manageable amounts called ‘bits’.
You can enjoy the benefits of this flexible learning process in our online MA Finance and Investment, Dual MA and MSc Finance and Investment and Dual MA and MSc Strategic Marketing programmes. Or perhaps with the entrepreneurial skills you earn from a Global MBA, you will be able to determine your own working hours.