A prediction from 1930
John Maynard Keyes predicted in 1930 that the working week would be reduced to 15 hours within a century. It is now 2017, almost 90 years on and not a lot has changed - if anything people are working the same or longer hours with no signs of a change in pace. If anything, capitalism has supported the development of new jobs that are more meaningless. It is time to stop and redefine what work really is.
What is Work?
We seem to have a very narrow definition of what work is now, that work is about earning money that you pay taxes on and have a relationship with an employer. The basic facts here are that there is so much MORE work being done. Caring for children, caring for elderly family, volunteering, contributing to the community is all considered work and whilst it does not contribute to the GDP is an integral part of our wellbeing and contribution in this world.
Idealist Notions vs Productivity
Some may say these suggestions are idealistic, that no business or company or industry can manage on a 15 hour working week. It is time to challenge the nineteenth century definitions of work and wealth to build a change of mindset to the way we work. To embrace change, the opportunity for people to push themselves rather than be pushed and told by the employer or company is empowering. Of course there will be some fallout, the right people in the right roles will remain or be replaced. Consider how refreshed employees are following a long weekend, bank holiday, public holiday or taking a leave day - not only has the individual had a focus and been driven to get all actions up to date, they will also need to be prepared for their return to work and be ready to perform - this in itself is personal accountability and empowerment. With clear goals for a role and its responsibilities - a shorter working week has massive potential, just think less pressure on childcare facilities, families can work and be home, parenting roles can be shared.
Is there a Magic Number?
It is time to redefine the way business approaches labour, how a level of freedom can be created whilst creating the ability for a more productive and creative environment. What drives you? Are you happy to continue working a 9 to 5 job or is it time for you to challenge the beliefs you have and consider options for to create your magic number as well as freedom and flexibility to live and work the way YOU choose. Some may say 15 hours, ultimately its chanllenging and changing the rigid approach to work.
The Pros and Cons
With any major reform, pros and cons are key considerations to make an informed decsion. To clearly identify pros and cons a trial scenario would be well worth a business investing in. To support the trial the dutch visionary and author Rutger Bregman's book Utopia for Realists is well worth the read.
The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
John Maynard Keyes