1. British workers already work longer hours than most of Europe.
Only in Austria and Greece do people work longer hours on average than in Britain. And it’s not as though we’re the richest, happiest, most powerful or socially well-adjusted as a result, now is it?
A Manufacturing Town by LS Lowry.
2. It’s worked before.
Faced with the collapse of the economy in 2008, the governor of Utah Jon Huntsman ordered over 70% of his public sector employees to start working a four day week rather than risk their jobs. Public buildings closed on a Friday, but were open extended hours the rest of the week.
Aside from the obvious internal savings this made for the government, two-thirds of staff reported that it made them happier and more productive, and one in three of the public claimed it resulted in an improved service.
Commuter congestion and carbon emission all also improved in Utah as a result. If President Obama hadn’t made Huntsman ambassador to China in 2011, there is a good chance the scheme would still be in place - and working - today.
3. The Dutch way.
A part-time work culture has prevailed in the Netherlands for years, where three in four working Dutch women work less than the traditional 9-5 Mon-Fri and one in three men either work part time or squeeze a full-time job into four days. Part-time surgeons, part-time managers and part-time engineers are all common place.
The OECD Better Life Index rates the Netherlands as the country with the second best work-life balance in the world. Britain? We’re 22nd, behind almost all of Europe.
5. It’s not just America and Europe, either.
Legislation to improve work-life balance is also being introduced in parts of Africa, such as Gambia, where the government announced a four day working week in 2013 to enable public sector workers to spend more time farming, socialising and praying.
The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe. The extra hours in the workplace mean that people aren’t spending enough time doing things that they really enjoy. “We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,” says Professor Cooper.
He recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work. “By earmarking those two days, it means you won’t be tempted to work overtime on those days,” he says.
A great idea in theory, but when you get home at 8 and have to eat, clean and prepare for the morning, how much ‘me time’ is there in an average evening? An extra day of weekend, on the other hand, could make a whole world of difference.
CONVINCED YET, BRITAIN?
Think about it.
With a three day weekend, we could party and get stuff done.
People with kids would have three attempts getting a lie in, instead of just two.
We wouldn’t feel like we were living for the weekend, but living at the weekend, with an extra twenty-four hours to rest, recuperate and do the things that really matter.
What’s more, we’d return on Tuesday ready to do battle with the world and be better and happier at our jobs.