view of windows in office building While the relationships between health, productivity and the workplace are complicated, research provides tantalizing perspectives into the potential of getting these elements right in the workplace. (Photo: Bloomberg)

With a flurry of research on 4-day workweeks and 5-hour work days, the notion of how our days are best structured is gaining increasing attention. As it should. The concept of the eight-hour workday is itself a relatively recent invention with Robert Owen discussing the division of the day into three equal parts–“eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”–in 1817.

However, it was not until 1926 that the concept of the 40-hour workweek really took off with Ford Motor Company instating a five-day, 40-hour workweek. While most would agree that the nature of work has changed dramatically since 1926–with the introduction of flexible time, remote work, not to mention the technological enhancements that have transformed the modern workplace–the luster of the productivity benchmarks of yore have long since faded.

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