Can you imagine working a 4-day week? Although for many freelancers and self-employed people this may already be a reality, for most organisations an official 4-day week isn’t. Yet in Britain the Trades Union Congress (TUC) yesterday put pressure on government to establish this saying that a four-day working week will be possible this century if businesses are forced to share the benefits of new technology with their workforce. At the same time some 1.4 million people in the UK now work a full 7 days a week and most of us tend to be available 24/7 when it comes to work and this is, after all, because of technology!
A report by TUC says postwar economists promised employees would be working a 15-hour week by now and that polls showed a four-day week would be most people’s preference. “Instead, new technology is threatening to intensify working lives. For some, the on-demand economy has meant packaging work into ever-smaller pieces of time,” the report reads. “This is a return to the days of piece-work, creating a culture where workers are required to be constantly available to work.”
The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Ireland and Denmark all currently have a model in place to ensure that employees have a strong work life balance. The Netherlands have a 4 day working week. The statistics are hard to argue with, there are studies proving that productivity and profits increase when this method is used.
It’s true that we are completely capable of being more productive in a shorter space of time as long as we can discipline our compulsive need to keep checking email and work-related things outside of work. It’s also true that technology and automation should help companies put less pressure on their workforces.
So, what would you do with that extra time? A radio programme yesterday asked that very question and people said things ranging from getting housework done to free up the weekend to writing a book of poetry, learning new skills and finding more time for other interests. Here are some other things people said in an anonymous street survey yesterday:
“I would probably do all the things that get too busy to enjoy over the weekend. For example, if you go shopping, it can get too crowded, same with seeing an exhibition. It would be nice to go at a time where public transport is basically empty.”
“The spa! I’d probably do with an extra day at the theatre or see a movie I’ve been wanting to see for ages without a crowd of people. Anywhere where there’s no kids involved.”
“I’d go to a yoga class or take my dog for a walk. Or even take a photography course, I’ve been wanting to do for a while but always struggle to find the time. Yes, that would be amazing”.
“What couldn’t I do with the extra day? Bit more family time and all the jobs I don’t have time for in the weekend making memories with my son.”
What would you do?