Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

While enduring the global pandemic, many of us have had the chance to reassess our values and goals for our lives. This has set the scene for many companies, workplaces, and even entire countries to toy with the possibility of implementing a four-day workweek.

We’ve shared several stories about the success of four-day workweek trials, but if you are still unsure about the idea of shaving off one workday, here’s a list of 10 reasons why less work and more life is good for the whole of society.

A smaller carbon footprint

Countries with shorter average working hours are more likely to have a smaller ecological footprint. This could be because citizens who are constantly working and busy tend to foster convenience-led consumption habits that are ultimately damaging for the environment. When people aren’t in a hurry, they have more time to form sustainable living habits.

A stronger economy

Shifting towards a shorter working week could improve social and economic equality and bring us away from debt-fueled growth. For instance, the Netherlands and Germany have shorter work weeks on average compared to Britain and the US, but their economies are just as strong or even stronger.

Better employees

When looking at productivity from an hour-for-hour standpoint, people who work less are often more productive than people who push themselves to work more than 40 hours per week. Those who get more rest are also less prone to sickness and absenteeism and will therefore contribute to a more stable and committed workforce.

Lower unemployment

The paradox is that some people are overworked and are pushed to be productive all day and night, while others are struggling to find any kind of employment at all. Shorter workweeks can help redistribute paid and unpaid time more evenly across society and help close this gap.

Improved wellbeing

If people had more time to spend pursuing activities that they enjoy and find relaxing, stress levels would be reduced, and overall wellbeing enhanced. Plus, shifting to fewer working days will help us stop “living to work” and instead allow us to reflect on and invest in our true values.

More equality between men and women

Currently, women still spend more time than men doing unpaid work. If shorter workweeks are implemented, then attitudes about fixed gender roles will be easier to change as more men will have more time to take over or help with work that is traditionally associated with women.

Higher quality, affordable childcare

The pandemic has also unveiled the issues surrounding childcare support systems around the world. Long working hours contribute to the high demand for childcare, so shortening these hours would help parents better balance their time and reduce the costs of full-time childcare. Additionally, less work will let working parents spend more quality time with their children.

More time for families, friends, and neighbors

All our relationships will get a boost if we are able to have more time to spend with and care for our loved ones. This will help people feel valued and strengthened by their relationships, which in turn will help build a stronger, happier society.

Making more of later life

Having fewer workdays can help make the transition from employment to retirement a lot smoother and spread over a longer period. People can reduce hours gradually over many years which is better for their health in the long run, as switching from long working hours to nothing at all can be traumatic and can result in illness or even early death.

A stronger democracy

If people aren’t as bogged down with work responsibilities, then they’ll have more time to participate in local activities, be informed on what’s going on in their communities, and engage in politics.

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