Every few years, people start saying “nine-to-five jobs are pointless! We don’t need to do them anymore!” And then nine-to-five jobs continue to be a thing. While studies have shown that eight-hour work days might be less than healthy, they’re a working formula, and there isn’t any major reason to take them out of practice. At least, not just yet, but according to billionaire Richard Branson, the demise of the eight-hour work day might be closer than we think.
According to Branson, who started his first business at 15 after dropping out of high school, the primary culprit in the inevitable death of the nine-to-five will be technological advancements. As technology improves and more jobs become automated, there will be less need for human input. What needs to happen once we reach that point, in Branson’s opinion, is governments and businesses need to create smarter working practices. Ideally, workers could make the same amount of money even when performing a quantitatively smaller amount of work, because the quality of work required will be the same or higher. Branson also believes that work week flexibility afforded by reduced hours would improve workers’ work-life balances and reduce stress. Letting a worker set their own pace would allow them to strive for excellence by their own standard.
Branson acknowledges that finding a balance that keeps businesses, workers, and the government happy will be difficult, but it will be a balancing act worth performing.