It was pretty much standard in almost every American industry back in the early 1900’s – you’d work six days a week and often it was 10 hours a day. But it was the Ford Motor Company that changed all of that on this date in 1926. Ford became the first American company to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for factory workers. Three months later the policy applied to office workers too.

Company president Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford explained that every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation. He said Ford has always tried to promote an ideal home life for its employees and believed that for every man to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.

It was a great benefit for the workers, but at the same time what the company did was increase productivity. They were working fewer hours a day and fewer days a week, but the quality of work increased.

Other companies had their doubts, but saw the results and soon followed Ford's lead.  The Monday-to-Friday workweek became the standard.


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