Monday, 10 November 2014

Why we should only work a four day week.

It's Monday, and as Monday's go it's not a bad one.  Soft, fresh blue sky, hazy sunshine and gloriously colourful autumnal leaves on the trees and carpeting the path as I dropped the children off at school.  Another new week has started.

However, whilst conducting some research for a forthcoming wellbeing event, an article in The NewStateman laying out a compelling case for a four day working week caught my eye.

More than 6 million people in the UK work more than 45 hours a week (ONS) whereas many others are struggling as they don't have enough work.  

Unfortunately many work places have a culture of long hours where it's a badge of honour to be the last one to leave, where colleagues will greet you with a sarcastic "morning" if you arrive on time rather than early and an "oh you're off are you?" if you dare to leave at 5pm.  Sound familiar? 

I've certainly worked in this type of long hour environment in the past but is it productive?  Possibly it is in the short term in an all hands on deck approach to get a particular piece of work completed responding to a business need.  But what about in the long term?

Larry Page Google CEO, has spoken out against this long hour culture.  He argues that the key to greater productivity and continually getting the most out of staff in the long run is actually working fewer hours.  This is a view echoed by Anna Thomas who promotes the idea of a shorter working week in her blog Equilibrium.  It's very easy to fall into the trap of  getting so busy making a living that we forget to make a life.  

So what are the benefits of a four day week?  Here's my top 7...

1. The number of people unemployed could be reduced.

2. Stress related illnesses could be reduced which are the cause of most work absences in the UK.

3. The nation's health in general would improve as we'd have more time for rest, relaxation and exercise.

4. We'd have more time for actually living.  I don't know about you but I tend to find that at least one day of the weekend is generally taken up with jobs and by this I mean, jobs that get us ready for the next week such as washing, cleaning, shopping and homework supervising.  Sometimes these mundane chores seep into two days of the precious weekend and this doesn't even take in time of any other ad-hoc tasks like DIY or gardening to name a couple.

We could use the extra day each week for fun family time, creative activities, catching up with friends, simply messing about with our children, learning something new, engaging in our hobbies, exercising....Surely this is what making a life is all about.

5. We can create stronger communities. We would have the time and energy to devote to our local area an people.  Communities where we can support each other and share caring responsibilities.

6. We can work more productively.  It has been proven that people who work shorter hours get more done per hour so it's not a simple equation of throwing more hours at a task to get the best result.

7. We can be more creative and innovative.  Exhaustion really stifles our creative side but with a shorter working week we'd have more energy to be creative.  We'd have the headspace to to able to think of new ideas, inventions and innovations.

Obviously there are plenty of people who will argue against this but I'm not going to muddy our Monday with those and I'm just going to indulge solely in the benefits today.

How would you use your extra no work day?

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