Should we have a four-day week?

When I was a university student in the late 1960s studying Management Sciences, there was much talk of the age of leisure. The assumption was that what we then called automation – more generally technological developments – would mean that we could produce goods and services with much fewer person hours and therefore we would all work much less, creating a new problem of what do with all our leisure time.

I don’t see much evidence for the age of leisure. I’m retired now, but what I see is people in employment often working long hours and under great pressure and stress to achieve more and more in their working hours.

In much of the developed world, we are now in a new age of austerity as a result of the economic collapse of 2008. This is forcing governments and companies to look at what goods and services they deliver and new, radical ways of delivering them.  In the United States, the state of Utah has come up with the idea of a four day week.

This is an interesting idea. In theory, it should be able to work in most places and most circumstances with radical reorganisation and good communication to users of services.

There is a lot of flexible working going on these days with some people working four-day weeks either by arrangement or by use of leave. The secret is for everyone to do it on the same day so that one can close buildings or other facilities and thereby save money and reduce pollution.

For Utah, an even more radical approach would be to combine the four-day week with new methods of working, so that it was not necessary to do four 10-hour days but four eight-hour days  (10 hour days are too long for efficient working and impossible for working parents or carers).


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