A startup’s nightmare - an 8-hour work day?

Original author: Nathan Pensky
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This article, after the translation of which I still reflect on historical facts that we forget in favor of fleeting superficial trends. She, I’m not afraid of this, divides time into two parts, one in which for me 8 working hours is a clear evil, and one in which I understand that it is far from the worst.

Startups are known for trumpeting everywhere about "entrepreneurship as a lifestyle." Long workloads, poor food, disgusting working conditions are common among many boasting founders. After they develop something, it is worth worrying about their physical well-being and mental health. Clothing that is not a stray bottom from a tracksuit can wait months for publication, although sometimes it does not wait for it.

They will tell you that they are not bound by any obligations in order to rest or spend time away from work. But I often wonder if their employees share such zeal or whether the lifestyle dictated by startup culture is possible only for low-skilled employees.

Some of them forgot, or even did not know at all, that the introductionAn 8-hour workday was once a critical issue of working social reform. The right to a certain number of working hours per day was not granted to employees out of kindness, but was beaten out by the employees themselves. The pioneers of industrialization obviously worked in somewhat more difficult conditions than current entrepreneurs. But despite this, they fought for changes in production working conditions, so the middle class, which arose from workers in the manufacturing industry, does not at all resemble the stagnation of modern technical staff, which they seem incredibly proud of.

The 8-Hour Workday Movement first appeared in the United Kingdom during the first industrial revolutionworks of the reformer Robert Owen, who proposed the motto "eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, eight hours of sleep" in 1817. Reforms to reduce working hours were initiated simultaneously with laws supporting child labor. While the industrial revolution was gaining momentum, there was a rise in the middle class and the creation of more favorable social conditions for ordinary people, but working conditions in factories and plants, especially for children, were still terrible. Eloquent statistics say that infant mortality rates in the UK declined during the Industrial Revolution, while overall infant mortality remained at a pre-industrial level.

Industrial society was reformed extremely slowly. In 1819, Britain introduced one of the first factory laws.introducing a 12-hour work day for children aged 9 to 16 years working in cotton mills. But a forced 10-hour day for women and children of textile workers was not enacted by UK law until 1847.

The 8-hour day movement gained momentum in America during the Second Industrial Revolution, especially after the protests at Haymarket Square on May 1, 1886.

The Ford Motor Company was the first major American industrial concern to take an 8-hour day in 1914, 28 years after the riots at Haymarket Square. As a result, the company's productivity and profits doubled. After which many companies followed this example.

These terrible history lessons turn out to be hard to understand today. A long historical turnaround ultimately led to a fairer working culture that puts pressure on employers. The creation of a strong middle class improved the quality of life, created a banking system, spawned a modern public education system, and, on the whole, made it possible to socially mobilize the working class. But that middle class did not use social mobility to simply increase the number of manufactured items.

Since the onset of the "digital revolution", many entrepreneurs have adopted the irregular working hours. Such a concept is sometimes cited in technical entrepreneurial circles, claiming that people work most productively and creatively in accordance with ultradian rhythms., in three-hour blocks, with half-hour rest intervals. Another popular concept was first voiced by Hungarian psychology professor Mihai Chiksentmihayli, known as "flow" .

An interesting aspect of both of these concepts is that they focus on productivity, without going into the health and physical condition of employees. It is also interesting that the first strategy is expressed as a cyclically repeating process that does not correspond to the actual schedule. With an 8-hour working day, you work the same 8 hours, and according to this concept, work can last much longer.

Perhaps the 8-hour working day is erroneous and based on an arbitrary number? May be. But the need to limit the number of working hours is obvious. According to the surveyHarvard Business Review in 2009, 94 percent of the professionals surveyed worked at least 50 hours a week or more, and a report on the state of American jobs from 2013 by the American Public Opinion Institute showed that up to 70 percent of the time American workers feel unoccupied (demotivated and unsatisfied).

Confirming the importance of an 8-hour work day, or at least some kind of limitation of working time, is not some trick for lazy people. This is a completely humane argument that improves performance in real limits.

Many people reading this will start shouting to me, too, “problems of white people!” (“First World Problem!” - such a meme) And in a sense, they are right. This is the dilemma that our industrialized, unfairly privileged, somewhat culturally flabby society faces. It's hard to regret bloggers and developers watching the screen for 10 hours a day listening to Katy Perry on Spotify when people facing more serious issues don't get help. In addition, the difference between the everyday experience of workers in the modern IT industry and the workers of the times of the industrial revolution is enormous.

And while our technologically obsessed, culturally gobbled up society is still there. One of the biggest misconceptions of the meme #firstworldproblemsis the idea that the solution to the "problem of white people" and the problems of third world countries are mutually exclusive. Creating suitable amenities for the everyday life of modern workers, it is necessary to recognize the contribution of labor reformers of the industrial era to the development of the principles of social equality and be guided by them.

This question is especially relevant if we take into account the existing options for a work environment in which employees spending a lot of time in the office, at the same time, are provided with ample opportunities for recreation and entertainment, examples of such companies are Facebook, Zynga and Google.
Google Office Switzerland

Provided that the discomfort of constantly harassing employees is the problem of white people #firstworldproblem , perhaps we could come up with a solution to the problem of white people #firstworldsolution , not related to unreasonable luxury. If we are going to choose between #firstworldproblems and the problems of third world countries, it might be better to pay attention to those whose fate is more hopeless than ours? There should not be any or / or.

Like industrialists, startups and entrepreneurs, if necessary, work many hours a day, because the companies they develop need it. Numerous low-skilled technology workers rushing into 12-hour work days hope to receive a fraction of the company's capital, investing in person, hoping to become part of something larger than themselves.

With all this, startups should remember that in the short term, it may be necessary to change the approaches and methodology that is ripe for reform, and not to sing any way of life.

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What is an 8-hour work day for you?

  • 40.1% the bitter truth of life 178
  • 33.8% my work day is much more than 8 hours 150
  • 13% I work 15 minutes a day, and have not yet earned a million ... 58
  • 4.5% I don’t work at all yet) 20
  • 8.3% what is it? 37

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