It occurred to me this morning just how much time many of us spend on simply getting to work. For five out of every seven days for around 50 weeks of the year we shove ourselves into a train, bus or car twice a day in order join society in our collective work habits. I personally spend from 10 to 15 hours per week just getting to work. That’s 40 to 60 hours every month, coupled with £300 in fuel, just to get to get my arse to the office. The vast majority of this is taken up with sitting on a motorway, handbrake on, staring at the back of someone’s car, thinking about how much their desire to cover their car with stickers and toys is indicative of a moron behind the wheel. But anyway, that’s a little shy of £4000 and around a month out of every year spent on travelling to work so that I make enough money to cover the rent, bills, food etc and of course cover the cost of getting to work so that I can make enough to cover the rent…
I do worry that many of use are spending more time than is healthy of working and getting to work; five out of seven days? Is this really a good idea? It turns out that I’m not alone in this. With progressively more people becoming depressed, stressed and ill from work our warped solution is ‘more on-site councillors’ or ‘team outings’ in order to keep the tightly strung workforce at their desks, rather than examining what might be a fundamentally flawed structure.
The president of the UK Faculty of Public Health said the five-day week should be phased out to end what he called “a maldistribution of work” that is damaging many people’s health.
“When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs”, Ashton said.
So how do we go about implementing this? Personally I’d like to be squirrelled away in a cabin by a lake making whimsical observations on nature and publishing every other year in an esoteric journal, but I have a sneaking suspicion this might not me the most viable approach! I’d settle for four working days per week, maybe even a few of those at home. If the work is load is managed and deadlines are made surely that justified any schedule adjustment.
This isn’t the first time this has been proposed either: back in 2008 a four-day week was trialled in Utah, revealing that less really might be more.
If working less and better can reduce pressure on public services, create a healthier society and cut greenhouse gas emissions, is it time for national “gardening leave” for all? “I wish I’d spent more time at the office” are words few would carve on their headstones.
What do you think: is five days perfectly acceptable or is the work:life balance maldistributed? I know where I stand.
Have just seen an interesting article in Forbes about a similar topic. Well worth a read.
A few decades ago the decision between work and family was one that most working professionals around the world had to make on a regular basis. The rationalization for many was that “I have to pick work to support my family.” Although we have seen some improvement in this area over the last few years, many people still have to make this choice. But why? In today’s world with co-working locations, flexible work environments, collaborative technologies, and new forms of management, why do employees even need to consider making this choice? As long as we get our jobs done why can’t we focus on things that we want to prioritize? Isn’t this what the future of work is all about? READ MORE