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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

It's no secret Americans work their tails off, but there's a growing movement for work arrangements that would have made our grandparents blanch.

The big picture: The days of showing up at the office five mornings a week are coming to an end, and companies and workers are rushing to adapt while remaining productive.

  • "A recent survey ... found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their tasks in five hours a day if they did not have interruptions, but many are exceeding 40 hours a week anyway — with the United States leading the way," Reuters reports.

Three ways people are backing away from the 9 to 5 grind:

  1. Four-day work weeks
  2. Remote work, even on an unlimited basis
  3. Flex time

Between the lines: None of these options are really new, but what's driving them is a mix of cultural need and technological progress, including:

  • Young parents who want to put in time with kids, especially the women who disproportionately bear the career costs of having kids.
  • Young workers who want to work where they choose, from wherever they want, without exposing themselves to the risks of the gig economy.
  • Older workers looking to reduce burnout: "In New Zealand, insurance company Perpetual Guardian reported a fall in stress and a jump in staff engagement after it tested a 32-hour week earlier this year," Reuters adds.

The other side: "There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week," Elon Musk tweeted in November.

  • Musk to "Axios on HBO," just days before the tweet: "No one should put this many hours into your work. This is not recommended for anyone."

It's also the case that some of these experiments fade away. IBM, which helped pioneer remote work, is among the companies that have backed away in search of putting employees together in offices.

The bottom line: Don't expect the long hours and hard work to go away anytime soon. Do expect, however, that talented workers will keep coming up with new ways to work, including these.

Go deeper

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.

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