Work less, live more?

I saw a few tweets last week about the idea that Britons should ideally work about a 20-hour week. This would enable more job shares, reduced unemployment and, in theory, boost the economy. I then googled it and read the whole article from The Guardian website.

One of the things that interests me is the claim that ‘The UK has the longest working week of any major European economy.’ I’ve heard this before and am not all surprised. In fact, it saddens me.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have much. We had a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. Beyond that, I wasn’t really aware of anything. I know that money was tight. We didn’t go abroad at all. In fact the only holidays we had was when us children went to stay with our grandparents. I didn’t go on a plane until I was 21! But I didn’t think anything of it. These days everyone wants the best of everything. But at what cost?

Most people I know work exceptionally hard. They work so much that they are exhausted by the weekend. They work beyond their hours and don’t often get any reward for it. This makes me sad. The company my OH works for gave everyone a tin of chocolates for Christmas. Cheaper than monetary bonus or time off in lieu, but it didn’t go down well with everyone.

When I worked full-time I worked insanely long hours. I earned a fair wage for it, but at what cost? It very nearly broke me. This is why I agree with the idea of people working less. If people worked fewer hours, they’d have more leisure time, more time to get fit, sleep more, invest in their relationships, be healthier and hopefully happier. This would surely have a positive impact on productivity. I don’t work full-time but even I would appreciate another day at the weekend so that I could spend more time with my OH, friends and family. Instead we have to squeeze everything into 48 hours – downtime, hobbies, spending quality time together, ‘me’ time, seeing others, working on the house and garden. No wonder everyone makes so many ‘I don’t like Monday’ comments on Twitter!

I do realise that fewer hours worked means less money coming in and for a lot of people it’s not an option. Would cutting back on things make this easier? Possibly, probably not though.

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m no economist but I have experienced working so hard that I got the ‘Sunday night blues’ and nothing could shake it, not even wine.

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