At the risk of infuriating those who need every hour of work they can get to make ends meet, it’s time to change this default. The five–day week is anachronistic and counterproductive, a very dull 20th century way of doing business. It only really bedded down as a way of life during the Great Depression as a job–creation idea.
It’s absurd to think that people might install a measure of balance into their lives when we yoke them with a 5:2 rhythm. Nothing in nature cleaves to a 5:2 rhythm.
The four-day week is better for us, our employers, our economy and our society.
It’s better for us because it will make us healthier. Various research finds that a long working week increases the risk of a stroke, stress and mental illness. I would add that long office hours make it very hard to nurture our most important relationships in our private lives, whether they are with spouses, children, parents or friends. A shorter week, by contrast, removes us from the misconception that our jobs are the most important things in our lives, that we are indispensable, that somehow we need to work all the time in order to matter.
The four–day week is better for our employers because “part–timers” are more productive than “full-timers”. They have more energy and work more expeditiously. The additional time away from work leaves them more refreshed, creative and eager when they clock back on. The most effective people I know work short, punchy weeks and then rejoin their real lives.
The four–day week is better for our economy because it will create jobs. More people in work, a smaller benefits bill, more disposable income. It’s surely better for Britain to have 35 million people earning an average of £24,000 than 30 million earning £28,000.
We only get one life. Don’t spend it all at work. Forget working 24/7 and giving 110%, Lord Sugar. Work 9/4 and give about 70%; you’ll find you get 99% of the results – and remain in a strong enough frame of mind to enjoy them.
Make Thursday the new Friday. The only downside is that Monday will still be Monday…