Can we handle a four day working week?

2 Jul

4 day working weekThe idea of a four-day working week is something that many people have thought of as a  concept that simply couldn’t work because it promotes the idea that somehow leisure time is more beneficial than a hard days work. The notion that every working day has to be hard or it simply doesn’t count is something that we find hard to shake off.

I have read an interesting interview with Prof John Ashton regional director of Public health in North West England in the Guardian. It quite simply states the benefits of a 4 day working week. They as Professor Ashton says are

  • People get to spend more times with their families
  • There is more opportunity for exercise a real contributor to reduced blood pressure and stress.
  • An opportunity to increase employment levels for those struggling with Finding work. Thus adding purpose to an increased number of people’s existence.

“The problem is you have got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that don’t have jobs”

“We need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives,have much more time with their families and maybe reduce high blood pressure because people might start exercising”

A  YouGov survey discovered that 57% of workers support the idea and 71% think it would make Britain a happier place.

About 10 years ago I worked for another organisation that proposed a 3 day working week. The 3 days would consist of 12 hour working shifts totalling 36 hours Monday to Wednesday. Providing us with Thursday to Sunday as our weekend. The company would save on heating, lighting and other overheads associated with keeping the premises running. The idea never came to fruition many people had childcare issues and others simply had a fear of change. A test run for 6 months may have seen that people are very adaptive and we may have discovered that the wellbeing, health and the home life relationships may have improved dramatically but we were never to find out.

This constant state of stress has us eating our lunch at our desk while observing other people’s lives or crafting our own lives on social media. Answering emails or taking work calls after hours leave us in a state of being constantly on and ultimately trains us to fear being disconnected. Just look at people waiting at bus stops and see how many are texting,talking or surfing rather than happy in their own presence and thoughts. All the former actions ultimately fluctuate our emotions and can trigger stress. It triggers not only addictive highs from adrenaline and endorphin responses from stressed states. It also makes us feel unable to wait alone with our thoughts and observations for the 10 minutes it takes for the bus to arrive.

This begs the question with all our knowledge on the benefits to our health and wellbeing of having an extra day off to ourselves and our family. Who of us will be strong enough not to reply to that company email or phone call from the boss. Will we ever truly be able to fully switch off.

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