Should we be working three-day weeks?

By Teamspirit on Thursday, 1 September 2016

Good news for people struggling with the short post-bank holiday week. Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim has joined calls to shorten the working week to three days.

Slim is part of a growing number of people who want to drastically rethink the way we approach work. He believes that by working fewer, longer days every week and retiring later we can lead more fulfilling and productive lives in and out of the office. Is such a big shift really achievable?

Research shows that after 25 hours of working we start to suffer from fatigue and a lack of concentration, both of which affect overall productivity. So, it’s certainly possible to make both the social and business case for changing the ways that we work.

In some countries, like Sweden, shorter working weeks are already being explored, while in France it is now illegal to email employees outside work hours.

These approaches aim to prove that by focusing on work for shorter and less interrupted periods we can be just as, if not more, productive than we currently are, and rejuvenate better by being able to truly switch off when we’re away from work.

However, just as we increasingly recognise that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working hours isn’t necessarily right, there won’t be a single solution to changing this either.

The concept of flexible working has been around a while now, but is still discussed in hushed tones. And in a hyper-connected, always-on world like ours, there are industries that rely on unusual, extended or unsociable working hours.

It will be a big challenge for employers and employees alike across sectors to be ambitious about work and just as committed to making the most of life outside of it, if we are ever to achieve Slim’s dream.

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