Who Wants To Work on Fridays?

Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. It is probably the most commonly known work schedule out there. Maybe you have a lunch in the middle that causes a slight variation, but more than likely, your schedule is pretty close to the traditional.

Where did this 9 to 5 schedule originate from? Did someone just decide one day that this was the an ideal schedule and assign it to the majority of daytime workers? The eight-hour time frame began many years ago. During the early to mid-1800s, workers fought to reduce their workday to 10 hours.

First, President Van Buren ordered government workers to work only 10 hours and soon after, other occupations followed suit. After the Civil War, the National Labor Union fought for an eight-hour work day using the slogan (among others): “Whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay.” In 1868, federal government employees were given the eight-hour workday (hooray!).

Before the 40-hour workweek, many factory workers in the 1700s worked at least 13-hour days and six days per week (sounds pretty bad, right?). Other occupations, like miners, worked extremely long hours as well.

In 1927, the Ford Motor Company came out with the five-day workweek and many other businesses joined in. Then in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) changed the overall framework of labor in the U.S. The minimum hourly wage was set at 25 cents (which is $4.20 in 2014 dollars) and the maximum workweek, at 44 hours. A combination of all of these driving forces created the schedules we have today.

Today, a 40-hour workweek is the norm. However, with the increased amount of workers telecommuting and more employers offering flex schedules, the traditional 9 to 5 is losing its wind.