You deserve an additional 52 days off a 12 months, with pay, and the moment has come to demand this time back.
A century ago, a poll predicted that by 2023 we’d all be working only two days per week. A recent technology that was sweeping North America would end in work being done in much less time. Back then, the newfangled tech was electricity and artificial light.
The same technological leap happened within the Nineteen Nineties. Productivity soared with the mixing of the web into all points of life and work. Remember? Tasks, like sending messages to clients, that used to take days now take seconds.
So what happened to all this gained time? Since we will get as much done in two or three days as a productive employee within the ’80s did in five, why are we still working a five-day week? Simply put, greed.
Economic growth unsustainably consumes precious resources — and lives. As a substitute of returning time to people, productivity gains were was more profit for a tiny fraction of society. You’re doing loads more work for a similar pay making those at the highest extremely wealthy. This needs to vary.
An improvement to work-life balance
The pandemic provided the disruption needed to query assumptions about work and life. A 4-day work week, and not using a reduction in pay, could be a strong incentive for a recent dialogue about work-life balance. It could also unlock the general public support and capability needed to tackle our most urgent problems.
This could apply to all staff, not only the 9-5 ‘white-collar’ cohort. The introduction of a four-day week could include a phase-in of guaranteed annual income that might initially be available only to probably the most vulnerable. Those that are currently unable to make ends meet even on income from five days wouldn’t be left behind. This might be paid for by making overdue changes akin to progressive taxation of the highest-income earners, and by closing corporate tax loopholes.
Imagine seven weeks off with pay. What value would this generate? Initially, a lot of us would likely rest and get well. But then we could see hundreds of thousands of individuals newly engaged as lively residents — reinvesting among the time beyond regulation back into their communities. There could be more time to reconnect with family and friends, more capability to rebuild community public spaces, and a renewal of local arts and social service organizations. These are all things that the “economy” doesn’t measure, but which can be foundational to a healthy and resilient society.
After years of pandemic, rising social and racial tensions, and climate disasters, everyone seems to be exhausted, stressed, and offended. Our political system and civil society organizations are on the breaking point. There could be very little capability to return together to handle structural problems that increasingly intersect.
4-day work week is already coming
On this volatile context, it is evident that no government has the general public support to do what is required to handle these issues. Leaders who’re wary of the response to mask mandates in crowded grocery stores won’t ever impose the sorts of measures needed to curb climate change or to handle systemic racism. The general public must be on board from the beginning.
And the perfect technique to engage hundreds of thousands of individuals to rebuild our lives and our society is to liberate social capability by giving everyone something precious that all of us value: time. The four-day work week is already coming; it has been studied and tested extensively. But we’d like to flip the narrative. It’s not concerning the 4 days of working. It’s concerning the appeal and impact of the 52 days off — in the future for every week of the 12 months.
Going back to 1923, the productivity gains from Henry Ford’s progressive assembly line prompted him to chop the work week from six to 5 days, with no reduction in pay. He was on the correct track. But since then, this progress has run into the ditch.
The issues we face individually and as a society will take time and a renewed sense of community to handle. We’ve more essential things to do now than spend our lives making a tiny group of very wealthy people even richer.