Bringing Back the 40-Hour Workweek with Cobots

    Posted by Craig Zoberis

    Sep 3, 2019, 1:56:00 PM

    Time is the most critical commodity everyone has, and we all know there’s only 24 hours in a day to fit everything in. So how do you manage life outside of work if you’re working 55 hours a week, and is that extra time put in truly productive time spent at work?

    Let’s start with some background on how we got here.

    In the 1800’s it was commonplace for manufacturing workers to put in 10-16-hour shifts over six-day workweeks. Union groups and other activists pushed for the laws to be changed to a 40-hour work week which was primarily adopted in the early 1900’s when workers cut back to five days a week, 8 hours a day.

    “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest,” was the mantra adapted by many companies, from Robert Owen—an 18th century Welsh mill owner and labor rights activist.

    This all changed around 1970 with Silicon Valley altering the landscape on what entailed a regular work week, seeking employees who were devoted to always being in the office with the belief that the more hours you put in, the better employee you are.

    A Gallup poll in 2014 showed the average work week was 47 hours and salaried workers said they worked over 60 hours per week. Along with the increased risks of working overtime such as accidents, equipment damage and more, studies have actually found there is no more employee output from a 10-hour day vs. an 8-hour day. The consensus over the decades seems to be that it is more important for employees to manage their energy, not their time, with the most productive hours in a day being between hours 2 and 6.

    According to Inc. Magazine, in manufacturing industries, a 10% increase in overtime yields a 2.4% decrease in productivity while in office jobs, productivity declines by as much as 25% when workers put in 60 hours or more.

    Another concern with working extra hours is there is a trade off for employees outside of work where sleep, dinner, time with kids, working out, and relaxation are sacrificed. Forget about socializing! Who has energy for that? These trade-offs, over time, can cause employees to be burned out and resentful. According to a study by Cornell University, some employees working 50-60-hour weeks show health problems, severe work-family conflicts, higher absenteeism, and an increase in turnover.

    With Cobots being integrated into multiple industries, the 40-hour workweek is more tangible than ever. The cobots allow for production during off hours, eliminate the monotonous tasks that often put machinists to sleep, and allows machinists to pursue more cerebral, invigorating tasks.

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    Companies have to incorporate a work-life balance or as Jeff Bezos from Amazon calls it “work-life circle.”

    “I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that's a debilitating phrase because it implies there's a strict trade-off. And the reality is, if I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy. And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. It actually is a circle; it's not a balance, said Bezos.”

    Topics: Wellness, process improvement, cnc machining, time management, risk management, Cobots, Universal Robots, Cobotics, Craig Zoberis, Fusion, Fusion OEM, employee hours, 40-hour workweek, work life balance, cobots in action, overtime

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