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200 years after it was first introduced, why are we still obsessed with the 9am - 5pm working day?


August 8, 2017

Have your voice heard. Take our survey on presenteeism here and share it with your network. 

No internet, no cars, no electricity, no state healthcare or education.

If we take just a moment to think about how life might have been for us 200 years ago, it’s impossible to imagine, isn’t it? So unrecognisable from our lives today in 2017. We’ve come so far.

Except, that is, on one huge issue that impacts us all. Our working day.

It was Robert Owen, a Victorian social reformer, who first formulated the concept of the eight-hour working day.  In 1817 he coined the slogan; “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest”.

Typical working conditions when the eight-hour workday was invented.

Back then, it was revolutionary and secured workers’ rights. But it’s still the norm by which we all work today.

So, why are we still wedded to this model in today’s world? When giant leaps in technology, super-fast wifi, and a whole suite of tools and apps all enable many of us to perform our work flexibly, why does the 9-5 still dominate the workplace?

One word: presenteeism.

The belief that in order to fulfil our jobs ‘properly’, we need to commute to an office and be visible at our desks for eight hours a day still holds powerful sway over most companies. Employers may pay lip service to offering flexibility but when it comes to the crunch, actually trusting their staff to deliver their work remotely, there’s a long way to go for many..

At The Hoxby Collective, though, we do things differently. We are on a mission to change the working world in order to create a happier, more fulfilled society.

We’re a global community of talented freelancers all working remotely across marketing, tech, creative, finance, brand and communications. We work in curated teams delivering fantastic outputs for dozens of clients ranging from healthcare brand, Perrigo, to Vintage Inns, to Comic Relief.

We’re leading the way for truly flexible work; each Hoxby has their own unique #workstyle, and we’ve attracted over 1,200 applicants from like-minded professionals who believe in our vision. We show great work happens when you let people choose the workstyle that is best for them.

We know the future is flexible, and so we’re launching a campaign to investigate the true cost of presenteeism on productivity and happiness. We want to research the issues that stand in our way.

We want to ask the question ‘Why is presenteeism still dominating the workplace and what effects is it having?’

Because of course, the world has moved on in 200 years. So why hasn’t the workplace?

Have your voice heard. Take our survey on presenteeism here and share it with your network.  Taking part in the survey will be a great contribution to our understanding and success.

Thank you. With your help, we can change the working world together. #lovewhatyoudo

Becky is an experienced media communications professional and senior qualified journalist, with 15 years in senior roles across digital and print media. She has worked for some of the biggest media publishers in the UK as an editor, and now works as a copywriter, content strategist and PR expert.

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