having a four day work week could easily fix canadians’ burnout and anger
You deserve 52 extra days off a year, with pay, and the time has come to demand it.
The newfangled tech of electricity and artificial light would result in work being completed in much less time by 2023, according to a poll taken a century ago.
There was a similar technological leap in the 1990s, when the internet was integrated into all aspects of life and work and productivity soared.
Why are we still working a five-day week when we can do as much in two or three days as a productive worker in the 1980s did in five? One word: greed.
In the name of economic growth, precious resources — and lives — are unsustainablely consumed. Productivity gains were turned into more profits for a small fraction of society instead of returning time to people. You are doing a lot more work for the same pay, which makes the top extremely wealthy. It’s time to change this.
Work-life balance is improved
As a result of the pandemic, assumptions about work and life were challenged. A 4-day work week, without a reduction in pay, would be a powerful incentive for a new dialogue about work-life balance. The public support and capacity needed to address our most pressing problems could also be gained.
In the introduction of a four-day week, guaranteed annual income could be phased in to benefit all workers, not just white-collar workers. Those who are presently unable to make ends meet even on income from five days would not be left behind. As a means of paying for this, we can make overdue changes, such as progressive taxation of the highest-income earners and closing corporate tax loopholes.
A seven-week break with pay could provide untold benefit. To begin, allowing ourselves to rest and rejuvenate would be essential. But the positive effects of such an opportunity don’t end there. Many individuals would likely use the extra time to become more active in their communities — devoting some of those hours to socializing, refurbishing public areas, and supporting local art and other service organizations. These activities are invaluable yet all too often overlooked by economic metrics, though they are vital components of a strong and capable society.
Several years of pandemics, rising social and racial tensions, and climate disasters have left everyone exhausted, stressed, and angry. There is very little capacity to come together to address structural problems that increasingly intersect. Our political system and civil society organizations are at breaking point.
The four-day work week is already here
In this volatile context, it is clear that no government has the public support to do what is needed to address these issues. In order to curb climate change or address systemic racism, leaders need to get the public on board at the outset. Leaders who are concerned about the public’s reaction to mask mandates in crowded grocery stores will never enact the kinds of measures that are necessary.
We can engage millions of people in rebuilding our lives and our society if we liberate social capacity by giving them something precious: time. Four-day work weeks are already coming; they have been extensively studied and tested. However, the focus should be flipped. It’s not about the four days of work; it’s about the 52 days off — one day for every week of the year.
It was Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line in 1923 that prompted him to cut the work week from six to five days, without reducing pay. He was on the right track. However, since then, this progress has stagnated.
It will take time and a renewed sense of community to address the problems we face individually and as a society. There are far more important things to do than make the very rich even wealthier.
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