On Lines

Thank God it’s Thursday…

There can’t be many people who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work four days a week rather than five. A few years ago, the idea might have sounded unattainable, even laughable. Yet, with the much of the developed world mired in recession, employers are becoming increasingly amenable to those who don’t fit the five-day-week template; companies saves money on salaries, while part-time workers are as productive as they were before, if not more so, because they’re happier.

Working less has become the norm in the Netherlands, where one in three men now works part-time or for compressed hours, and Gambia recently announced a four-day week for public sector workers. Even the environment benefits: pollution, rush-hour congestion and carbon emissions all decrease.

For individuals, having an extra day off in the week means that chores can be polished off, leaving the weekend free for genuine rest and relaxation – reducing stress and the need for sick leave. Or it can be spent in study, which can boost confidence or lead to better prospects at work. One friend of mine who switched to four days a week spent that extra day learning how to design apps; she has now set up her own business. Another takes Tuesdays off from his job as a mental health careers counsellor to study fine art. Both have never been happier – and they work harder at the day job as a result.

But could you survive on less money? It depends on your priorities. A 20% pay cut may sound drastic – but when you think that it buys you a 50% increase in free time, you may be seriously tempted.

For more information, see the new book by Andrew Simms, Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity.