If you’re used to working in an office, you know that not all of your time is spent doing actual work. When taking out the time for breaks, socializing, or even looking at your phone, that can add up. Some of that time working is productive, but not always. I’ve often asked myself, “How many hours do I work per day? Or what’s the actual number of hours I’m working?” Those are some questions I’ll be addressing in this article.
What’s the average number of hours worked per day?
When referring to the average number of hours worked per day, we’re looking at full-time workers. According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics graph, the average hours for full-time workers is approximately 8.5 hours. On a weekly note, that’s approximately 42.5 hours a week.
That’s a little more than a typical full-time workweek. But at the same time, it’s unlikely all of those hours are spent productively. The real number of hours is likely lower, compared to the official numbers listed here.
The real number of (productive) hours worked per day?
Some people may argue about the real number because some other studies suggest otherwise. For the article, the total number of hours worked in total may be close to three hours.
That’s right- only three hours a day! How crazy is that? If you think about it in general, that’s less than putting in half a day’s worth of work.
That’s not close compared to the official numbers reported from the BLS. It’s another reason why I don’t trust government statistics.
They might serve as a guide, but I don’t interpret them as hard-core facts sometimes. So what places should you look into for these stats? It all depends on where you work these days.
So what’s the point of working full 8-hour days?
It’s still up for debate why we’re still following the traditional 8-hour workday. The idea dates back to the Industrial Revolution, and it evolved.
But still, I don’t get why we’re sticking to the status quo of what worked back during the Industrial Revolution. Certainly, times have changed, and it should be looked at more closely.
How many hours a day based on my experience?
Over the years, I’ve worked in jobs where performance metrics were strictly measured. So I’m familiar with terms such as key performance indicators (KPI).
Having worked in banking/lockbox operations, some places were very strict. While other places were more lenient. For example, one more strict place usually found my coworkers and me working 6.5-7 hours of work each day.
Another example is a place that happened to be more lenient on performance numbers. Especially when the work volume was low, the average number of productive hours was under six hours.
For me, it would be just around the four-hour mark. I know that because there were some days when it was so slow at work, and it drove me crazy. So that’s a big difference in how workplaces run their numbers, and it depends on the culture as well.
What I did not like back at these jobs
When I worked at these jobs, some days it felt intense if we had a huge workload. When we had a lot of work, the time would go by quickly. Personally, that’s what I like when the days go by quicker.
But then you had other days where it would be very slow. When the workload is light, it’s not bad. Although if it got to a point where we would run out of work quickly, then it can be frustrating at times. That’s what I hated about the process and structure sometimes.
Even though I didn’t enjoy it that much, my managers didn’t like it as well. I know I had one manager who was strict about meeting numbers and certain quotas.
I understood how he felt, but in situations where you don’t have much control, what can you do about it? In those cases, it’s best to send people home if the workload is light on a given day.
That happened sometimes. It sucked for those losing out on their hours, but that’s the nature of how the operations were structured.
I know I went over the differences with the real numbers and so forth. But all in all, it seems that the real number of productive hours may be between 3-5 hours.
So think about that closely: Most people only work around half a day (or even less) depending on what type of job you have. That’s crazy, and it’s something more people should reconsider in structuring our workdays.
Will we ever get to a point where we can work fewer hours? I don’t know- I believe it won’t happen anytime soon. Although it would be a nice changeup and another way to think about how we go about our workdays.
I might be optimistic in the long run, but I think it won’t change anytime soon. The world may not be ready for that now, but maybe someday down the road.
Your Turn: Do you think the real numbers are accurate?
I would like to know your thoughts on this issue. Do you believe the BLS numbers are accurate to take into account?
What do you think about the three-hour mark for real productive numbers? Do you think that’s about right, or is it possible it’s more than that?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading them, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.