The End of the 40 – Hour Work Week

According to a Gartner Research Report, by the year 2015 most Americans will be working shorter work weeks.  The way society views the 40 – hour work week are already changing, along with views on retirement.
By the year 2015, people will be working many less hours each week, according to a Gartner research report released on May 30th. Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, contends that:

“Three of the four traditional pillars of work—the living wage, long-term relationships with loyal employers, and government- or company-provided pensions—have already gone the way of the dinosaurs, leaving only the 40-hour workweek.”


“Societal views on primary wage-earner and caregiver roles, as well as on retirement, are in the midst of changing, taking with them the de facto 40-hour work week. Individuals are already reconsidering its pervasive influence, the report argues, and the dialogue is becoming increasingly political.”

Who is most affected by these changes? Retiring Baby Boomers, working-age mothers and Generation Xers. They see the traditional workplace as a structure that holds them back from attaining a more fulfilling work/life balance. The Gartner report contends that no longer will the workplace be dominated by single bread-winners who expect to retire at the end of their working life, and that businesses need to adapt to this reality.

Brian Prentice, research director of emerging trends and technologies at Gartner, said “When people in these demographics have marketable skills, employers will find it difficult to ignore their requests for more flexibility.”

Ilyse Shapiro already has this firmly in mind. Ilyse, who I’ve written about in the past, started, a Website that communicates positions to educated career veterans who are not seeking traditional, full-time employment – from 20-somethings (Yers) to Xers to those in their 50s and 60s (Boomers), any of whom might be looking to fulfill both their career and personal interests and who crave meaningful work with a flexible schedule.

This comes as no news to Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk. On her blog and on The Huffington Post, Penelope writes about the New American Dream: “that is still about ‘doing better than your parents’ but not in a financial sense. This dream is about fulfillment.”

“Our dream is about time, not money. No generation wants to live with financial instability. And we are no exception. But finances alone do not define someone’s American Dream. Especially when our dream is about how we spend our time.

The new American dream is that we will have fulfilling work that leaves plenty of time for the other things in life we love.”

Penelope is a Gen Xer and writes to both Gen Xers and Yers, but please take note: her message is a universal one and translates extremely well to us Baby Boomers. I know – I’ve read and reviewed her book.

How would Tim Ferriss, Author of The 4-Hour Workweek,react to a shorter work week? As you can read in my interview with Tim, he’d probably say that it’s already within your reach:

“… all the rules outside of law and nature can be bent or broken. We artificially constrain ourselves. There are always more options than are immediately obvious.

The options are limitless, but each path begins with the same first step: replacing assumptions.”

What does all of this mean to you?

According to Brian Prentic, research director of emerging trends and technologies at Gartner, Inc.:

“The additional pressures of an aging population and skills shortages will lead to the adoption of digital free agency and flexible work structures as social, political and business necessities.”

The Gartner report asserts that rather than adopt a harsh edict of cutting in half the working hours of all employees, employers that create 20-hour job descriptions will be in the best place to attract and retain the most qualified workers.

“The 20-hour-per-week job description is a relatively simple way of addressing a growing problem without radically restructuring well-established management models,” said Prentic.

If Ilyse Shapiro, Penelope Trunk, and Tim Ferriss’s prognostications are correct, not only will this happen before 2015, but it’s already in the works amongst us.

Thanks to Everything Finance for including this post in the Carnival of Everything Finance.

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