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Humans Only Need To Work Eight Hour Weeks, Study Finds

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

Humans Only Need To Work Eight Hour Weeks, Study Finds

The pandemic has forced many employers to reevaluate where we work, after people were forced to stay at home to save lives - setting up makeshift offices in their spare bedroom, at their kitchen table or on the sofa.

But what about how long we actually work for?

A 2019 study found we only need to work eight hours a week - yep, a week - to get the psychological benefits of working, saying there is scope for the working week to be 'radically reduced'.

The paper was published in Social Science and Medicine and titled 'A shorter working week for everyone: How much paid work is needed for mental health and well-being?'

It argued that working an eight-hour week was sufficient to gain the 'wellbeing benefits of employment', as employee wellbeing was 'similar regardless of the length of the working week up to 48 [hours]'.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The authors explained that the rise of artificial intelligence could result in a 'significant shortage of paid work'.

However, rather than allowing this to lead to job losses, the researchers say a potential option is to introduce a shorter working week.

The study used data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which has observations from more than 80,000 people.

The team looked at how changes in the number of hours people worked affected their mental health over time, asking at what point it improved.

"This study found that even a small number of working hours (between one and 8 h a week) generates significant mental health and well-being benefits for previously unemployed or economically inactive individuals," they wrote.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The findings suggest there is no single optimum number of working hours at which well-being and mental health are at their highest - for most groups of workers there was little variation in wellbeing between the lowest (1-8 h) through to the highest (44-48 h) category of working hours.

"These findings provide important and timely empirical evidence for future of work planning, shorter working week policies and have implications for theorising the future models of organising work in society."

Researchers had expected to find that the cut-off would be around two-to-three days, but were surprised that the positive shift in employee well-being actually kicked in within just eight hours - information that could help us as machines begin to threat jobs.

According to Vice, Daiga Kamerade, first author and a sociologist at the University of Salford in England, said: "It is like taking Vitamin C - we all need a certain dose, but taking it more than necessary does not bring any additional health benefits, and taking overly large amounts can actually have a harmful effect."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Study, World News, News

Jess Hardiman
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