A man widely touted as the second richest in the world, Carlos Slim, has been in the news a lot lately – but not for the usual reasons. His recent comments at a conference in Paraguay promoting a condensed three-day work week have been echoed by the world’s new outlets. Slim’s proposal to increase the workday by two to four hours per day and delay retirement while offering a four-day weekend has ignited the conversation about work-life balance.
Carlos Slim and others have been making the case that having more days off would result in an increase in quality of life, and that isn’t the only purported benefit. Professor John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health told the Guardian that “we need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives, have more time with their families, and maybe reduce high blood pressure because people might start exercising on that extra day.”
Whether or not a new standard for business hours is adopted internationally people are talking. The freedom to regulate one’s own work schedule is a prized feature of the worlds most coveted jobs. With technology that allows us to work smart, not hard and keep in (too) close contact to ever be out of the office loop, the desire to adapt work hours to best accommodate personal life actually seems reasonable for some professions.
When the question was posed to the CBC online community reader’s relayed their experiences, were optimistic and posed skeptical questions. Does the work schedule norm need reviewing? Would a condensed week leave you burnt out by Wednesday? Perhaps most importantly, would you spend your extra day(s) off lowering your blood pressure? Tell us what you think.
As stress levels rise with 24 access to work issues via technology, an extra day off for employees would help a lot of people balance their life in a more positive way. Who wouldn’t like an extra day off?
Great point Nate, more important now than ever to find a balance. Thanks for your comment!
Daydreaming of a condensed, efficient work week and a treadmill desk! Let’s make our workplaces more health conscious!
Excellent food for thought. Coming from a profession with one of the highest burn out rates I question whether adding more hours to a work day in order to allow for additional days off would assist in preventing burnout or add to it. For singles I could see that indeed it may prove beneficial. I would however caution, the idea of adding additional day time work hours to those raising young families. Fitting 8 hours of work into a day with soccer practice, tutoring, meal prep, etc can be difficult on its own.
You raise an excellent point, Samantha. For folks who are balancing childcare, elder care and other responsibilities adding on to an already full day may not be realistic, or a healthy option. I’d like to see more flexibility and options for employees, so they can decide what works best for them. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!
For many years now more and more companies are keeping fewer employees, having them do more work, for the same money, and that’s where the burnout exists. Four tens might not be practical for everyone but it would be nice to have the option. Good article!
Very interesting article! I’ve worked both a compressed 4 day week, and a typical 5 day week, and both have advantages and disadvantages. While the extra day off during the compressed week was nice, working the additional 2-4 hours a day made it almost impossible to do anything else. For example, working 6:30-6:30 meant going home, having a quick bite to eat and heading to bed. There was less time to socialize, go for a walk, spend time with my partner, etc during those evenings. So was it beneficial in terms of a work/life balance? I’m not so sure. I traded the time I had every evening for an extra day off, and found myself missing those few hours of calm each day.
Since having children, I find that a 4 day week is my max, and while working less (currently just 2 days) has meant big, big sacrifices on the financial front, I feel like its important to show my kids that we can live with less ‘stuff’, but not without each other. That particular balance works for us, but for other families, it’s not so simple. I know parents who feel they’re better able to be ‘present’ at home after a 40 hour week than a 20 hour one.
So at the end of the day, it’s all about what balance means to you, I suppose!
I think this is one of those things that work best if it is an option that people can use if they value it. For example, someone who has to commute a fair distance each day would have no “free” time most working days anyway, and working a day less means that those commute hours are suddenly available. A longer day may also mean you can (or have to) avoid the rush hours, which may make your commute faster and more relaxed, with saving gas or a better chance of a seat in the bus/train thrown in as a bonus.
Great comments folks! Thanks for the lively discussion!