Today, during our usual early morning hour, we’re going to be talking about the future of the “contractor versus employee” workplace and workforce. We’ll discuss how the only sustainable way to do business in the upcoming decade is for the business to start considering having a much larger contractor workforce as part of their team.
Whether you’re a contractor or an employee, you should also aim to work 20 to 30 hours per week to help maintain a better work-life balance. In order to help you do this, we’re going to talk about the 40-hour workweek and the 20-hour workweek, learning how to break through major barriers that we hit with what the workweek looks like.
In the previous episode, I talked a lot about how I have been able to achieve a 20-hour workweek as a self-employed contractor and I’m earning enough money to support my family even though I’m only working 20 hours each week. I’m earning over six figures and I believe that starting a business and working from home is the easiest way to make all of this possible.
I want to build upon something that I talked about in the last episode, which is what the workplace is going to look like within the next decade. In order for more and more people to experience the 20-hour workweek, it’s time for a shift. Why does the number HAVE to be “40?” Why have we gotten into such a rut with the 40-hour workweek defining what it means to be full-time?
When you think about this, it’s actually kind of weird. We all have it in our head that to work full-time means you’re working 40 hours per week, which is eight hours a day, five days a week. If we’re not working at least 40 hours per week, a lot of us feel guilty or lazy.
I won’t go into every single action that was taken, but the 40-hour workweek has a history. Overall, going into the context of the late 1800s, a lot of people had jobs that were in manufacturing and factories. These were hard labor, physical jobs. And these people were working 60, 70, 80, and up to 100 hours per week. People were being pushed too hard.
Industries and various large companies, along with the government, started to establish a 40-hour workweek as a maximum unless the person was getting paid overtime. These regulations were put in place so that overtime workers were owed more money for all their extra work. It was almost 90 years ago when this regulation was passed. It was a step up at that time because employers were finally able to see that their workers were burnt out. However, that was a while ago as I mentioned before, so now it’s time for another shift.
Family dynamics change and now fathers are a lot more involved in their children’s lives than they were back in the 1900s. As a millennial, I can speak for many fathers by saying that many of us want to actually be home more and be part of our kid’s lives. They don’t want them to be off working constantly, never being home. There has also been a shift into more frequent co-parenting, where the mother and father have a more equal role of taking care of their children. Likewise, mothers are also working. Millennial parents are sharing a lot of the roles.
Now, in my world, I’m the only one who is directly working on a weekly basis to earn income. My wife is a huge support to the business, and she is my greatest business coach. She’s able to see things from the outside and provide me with a lot of ideas that support my business. But I’m doing most of the active work on a weekly basis to operate this business and do work for clients. For us, that works best. My wife may have other ambitious career-wise that she will decide to pursue once our kids are older, but for now, we realize that we’re at the stage of life where our young kids need us much more.
Today’s conversation is me stating that I don’t have all the answers. Rather, I want to start the conversation. I can’t give you everything that everyone needs to know in order to only work 20 hours per week. There’s obviously a lot of logistics involved here. There are a lot of changes that would need to take place for employees to have this. But I’m here to provide you with some ideas. So, you can start thinking about this and you can join me in trying to come up with ideas for how to change the workforce and how to be an influential person in moving it to a higher level where more people are having work-life balance.
Now, in the previous episode, I talked extensively on how being self-employed makes it very easy to work 20 hours a week, because once you get your income, your hourly rate, what you're charging for the services you're providing up to a certain point. You can easily charge and you're earning enough money in those 20 hours to not have to work more than that to earn decent income. And you can keep scaling that business and just hiring more people in order to keep your hours at that level.
Just know that the easiest route right now that I know of is to be self-employed. This way, you can easily be earning enough money and only work 20 hours. But for employees to be involved in that, how do things have to change?
There are companies that have actually experimented with giving their employees only 20 hour workweeks, but with the same pay. So, it's not about cutting their pay in half, and they only have a part-time job. It’s about paying them the same but reducing their hours so that they have the same salary, but they're working 20 hours less.
Some companies have experimented with 30-hour work weeks, or they're only working four days a week. But it's still a big difference, right? If they can accomplish getting their employees down to 20 to 30, I mean, that's great, right? What they found was that if you take an employee who is working 40 hours a week, and you only make them work 30 a week, those workers got just as much done because they were more focused.
You can just Google this kind of stuff and find the various companies that have experimented with lower work weeks, and their studies show that when an employee gets more time to take care of their health, to sleep more, to be with family, to be able to enjoy the aspects of life that feed their soul, that balance them out, they are more productive at work than most 40 hour plus employees.
People don’t spend 40 hours per week doing actual focused, productive work, because they’re too burnt out from having to be available all those hours. Instead, only 25 to 30 of those 40 hours are actually spent doing work. If they weren't in a state of burnout, if they were only working 20 hours a week, they would actually get a lot done. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in a short period of time, which is something I discussed in the previous episode.
The other thing that’s important for companies to look at is how many different jobs they’re giving their workers. The problem with the employee isn’t that they’re underperforming, it’s that they’re being given too many jobs. As a result, they can rarely specialize in just one thing to properly excel at their skill. They’re not given an opportunity to learn how to do their trade quicker. Instead, their skill set is being diluted by five different jobs.
I may even have nothing BUT contractors as my team members in the end. I don’t know. I just know that I enjoy having only contractors as my team, however, even if I end up having employees at some point, I have envisioned that my company will be one of those companies that only works their employees 20 hours per week. And they’ll be getting a full-time salary with that. I truly believe that you are more productive, you're more focused, and thus you actually get a lot more done and you're able to be more creative. You're able to come up with more ideas and you're able to problem solve quicker because your mind is in a state of clarity and focus, and you're more motivated to get more done because you have more of a time crunch.
I had a salary job once where I was paid to work 40 hours per week. I spent most of that time thinking “wow, I really don’t have 40 hours’ worth of work to do.” When I became a contractor and my employer ended up becoming a freelance client of mine, I was getting the same amount of work done, but in 20 hours instead. I actually ended up getting them MORE money this way. Overall, it’s safe to say that being overworked and underpaid is a huge problem.
My point here is that the future business model is going to make employers embrace a couple of things. First, they will need to embrace having more contractors on their team because as more people realize that by being self-employed, they can pull off a 20-hour workweek much easier. They're going to go that route and they're going to go the self-employment route. And as more companies realize that they can actually save money by hiring a contractor instead of an employee, they're going to keep hiring more contractors.
A lot of my clients who have either small businesses and large businesses are hiring more and more contractors every single year than ever before, because they're realizing that they actually get better work from a lot of these contractors that can specialize in key areas because these people are true experts in their field. People are even contracting certain leadership and project managing positions, marketing positions, and creative positions, along with computer programming and those types of positions, and even writers, I mean every possible position to manage your website and to keep your business online.
They’re doing this because it can be so much more cost effective. It’s only going to keep growing because these companies don't have to pay for their contractors’ health insurance or any other benefits. They don't have to pay half of that contractor's social security taxes either.
You're partnering with that contractor opposed to employing them. So that's one aspect of it that has to change. And let me just touch on another point with that contractors can be exclusive. Due to this, you can have a strong team member who solely works for you, and they can STILL be a contractor.
When I hire contractors, one way that I embrace them as part of the team in a stronger way is by sending them regular work, rather than just coming to them every few months. If I'm sending them work every single week, they can count on that. And thus, they start to build that into their schedule. And so almost a hundred percent of the time they're available to do work for my business.
As you can see, there are ways to have contractors and have them be a part of your team and have them show up to some of the team meetings. Yeah, the culture's a little bit different because they're usually not going to be a hundred percent devoted to just your company, but things have to change going forward. So, we might as well embrace how things are changing and start to think about what that looks like to have a team where many of them are contractors working for multiple businesses.
Now, as far as the employee side of things go, I don’t have as many answers. I haven’t BEEN an employee in a long time. I do know how the companies I work for operate, and I do believe that they can pull off giving their employees 20-hour work weeks. Some of this has to do with having fewer meetings. It’s important to figure out how to have fewer, better meetings with more efficient communication. As a contractor, I make sure that my meetings with clients are brief and efficient, ensuring that we’re not sitting around for an hour or two being distracted. We just jump straight into it. We have a clear agenda, we take needed steps, and then we’re out.
I hope that I got the conversation started about how business should be moving forward within the next decade. I intended to provide initial ideas, but this is something we will certainly get back to. I’ll probably have some guests come on the show to talk more about this. Then, we can start brainstorming ideas of how to move toward a 20-hour work week, not only for contractors, but for employees, so that more people can have the perfect work and life balance.
With the 20-hour work week, people are able to be there more for their children. Couples are able to spend more time together which means that divorce rates can drop. I mean, this can have a huge impact on society. If we can be a part of moving the majority of people towards working much less and earning the same amount or more, and businesses see that they can thrive this way and not go under, that will be phenomenal.
This is a huge deal, and I’m not just being dramatic. 20-hour workweeks can lead to three-day weekends and more flexibility throughout the week. This leads to people getting to create the life that they want.
Well, that’s all I have for this morning. Please leave comments, subscribe to my YouTube and the podcast, and I’ll see you in our next conversation.