Is Three-Day Week the Answer for Flexible Working?
When the worldΓÇÖs second richest man comes out in favour of a three-day working week, you know itΓÇÖs time to listen up.
Speaking to the FT Carlos Slim, who made his billions in telecoms, explained that a shorter working week would lead to more leisure time and a better quality of life.
And with recent changes to employment law here in the UK meaning that almost all employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, the time is right for revisiting the three-day working week.
Fewer days but more working hours for the office
To counterbalance any loss in productivity Slim suggests that we switch to ten or eleven-hour work days, plus working longer before retirement. (Given that the latter is happening already, it doesnΓÇÖt seem too much of a stretch.)
Overall, the proposal wouldnΓÇÖt mean fewer hours in the office ΓÇô just a change in the way that those hours are distributed. WhatΓÇÖs more, fewer working days for employees doesnΓÇÖt have to mean fewer working days for the company, since a shift system could be arranged to ensure that the office continues to run five days a week for ten or eleven hours each day.
ThatΓÇÖs a gain rather than a loss for employers and addresses one of the biggest problems with many forms of flexible working ΓÇô the need for employees to be present in the office. It would even appease those who subscribe to the Marissa Mayer school of thought that workers need to be physically present in the office in order to work collaboratively and be at their most productive.
A powerful voice for the flexible working movement
Of course, weΓÇÖve already seen plenty of advocates come out in favour of various flexible working practices. WeΓÇÖve been told that theyΓÇÖre a useful tool to retain working parents within the workplace by helping them to maintain work-life balance. Various organisations offering remote technologies have reminded us that flexible working can boost productivity.
Even so, many in the business world have remained dubious as to the benefits of disrupting the tried and tested 9-5. SlimΓÇÖs voice will be a powerful addition to the call for a re-evaluation of the way we work.
Would a three-day week work for you? How would you spend all those four-day weekends?