Rethinking the Working Week

by Crystal on June 30, 2009

Rethinking the working weekI’ve said it – and heard it said – repeatedly.  A two day weekend is just not long enough to get everything done.

Five days of work is too much.

The five day working week is a leftover from the days when there was one breadwinner, who usually had someone at home taking care of the non-work side of their lives.  That’s very obviously not the case anymore.  As women entered the workforce and families shifted to having dual-incomes, prices went up accordingly until now you really need two incomes just to get by.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against women in the workforce.  I believe women have a very valuable perspective that’s important to include in any workplace – especially when it monopolises so much of your waking life.  My point isn’t that we should go back to single breadwinners, but that we need to do something about the fact that everything OTHER than work is getting crammed into less and less time, there’s no longer an option for most people to get by on one income, and with the time that takes up, it’s people’s lives that are falling through the cracks.

We live in a time of change.  America voted in Obama, Australia voted in Kevin Rudd, and they both offered a platform of change.

Here’s one change I think is long overdue.  Let’s revise what’s considered standard in the working week.

Think about it.  If a working week becomes 3, or even 4 days, then you automatically have twice as many jobs.  If the government was to offer companies reduced payroll taxes so it’s no more of a burden to have two employees covering 6 (or even 8) days, than it was to have a single person covering 5, and they get more work done for their employment buck.  Having a well rested employee is also a big bonus for productivity.  Even if they just make it easier for people to take up job sharing arrangements, it’s a win/win.

On a personal level, I know that as a single person, it’s all but impossible to fit everything I need to do into only 2 days.  Of course it doesn’t help that I travel to and from work, and put time into this and other sites online, but I’d dearly love to have another option besides the all or nothing choice – work or quit.

On the weekends we do have public holidays or some other reason for a 3 day weekend, I come back much more rested, having got through enough of my other commitments to be happy with it, and I cope much better with the 4 day week either before or after (although the first day is usually a mad rush to catch up for the 3 days off).   Work wouldn’t be so mutually exclusive to having a life if I could maintain that on a regular basis.  Even better if I could jobshare and work a 7 day fortnight, and have no mad catchup at all!

How about you?  Would you drop your days and/or hours if you had the option?  I know some companies had employees volunteer to drop their hours so they could retain more jobs when the Global Financial Crisis was threatening to close them down, but what about if it was a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity – would you do it?

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