This week the world’s wealthy man – Carlos Slim – came out in favour of a 3 day work week. Similarly, Google CEO Larry Page said that a reduced work week would improve employee satisfaction and productivity and allow more people to be employed.
This is fascinating from two perspective: first, what they said; and secondly, who said it.
The idea of a three day work week has huge appeal: you could create time…. our most precious non renewable resource. More leisure time, more time with family, more time for community activities, more time for your own hobbies.
What would you do with more time? Me, I would write more, get way better at guitar, rock climb outdoors and probably have more daytime sex. I would like to think I might volunteer more too, but I would have to see if I am as civic-minded in practice as I now believe I am in theory.
But a three day work week has never seemed realistic to many of us. For executives, it is ‘frowned upon’. I know that in my work environment, I could likely reduce my work week, but both my staff and my board would consider it ‘odd’ and I think they would think less of me for it. For people in hourly wage jobs, they either lack control over their hours, or the wage structure is such they truly can’t afford to work less than 40 hours per week.
So, it is incredibly important to see who is now arguing for a reduced work week, and why they are stepping up.
When respected business executives are saying they can improve productivity and job satisfaction (which also affects productivity) by reducing the work week, the idea takes on an acceptability amongst those that set the tone for what is what is acceptable.
It is people like Larry Page and Carlos Slim that can change the business culture and infrastructure to accommodate (and encourage) shorter work weeks. But it requires tough measures
– minimum hourly wages need to be increased
– management in companies needs to change to reflect the fact that managers and employees have fewer overlapping work hours
– culturally, people who work shorter hours must be celebrated (no more employee of the week awards for the guy who put in 80 hours)
I think this is s huge development. Lets hope it takes flight.