Rory Sutherland makes a good point about one of the benefits of shorter hours in this Spectator article, “John McDonnell’s right – the four-day week could work:”
Trust me, we need older people in the workforce. In my experience, it is only the over-fifties who really know what they’re doing. And this isn’t the 1930s. Fewer jobs are physically gruelling and life expectancy is higher. Wondrous and under-used technologies such as video-conferencing allow people to do much useful work from home. Both my father and father-in-law worked happily beyond their mid-seventies — far healthier than doing nothing at all. True, they didn’t work five days a week at 75 — but that’s exactly my point: it is the length and rigidity of the working week which forces people to stop working when they do: if there were more three-and four-day jobs, people could work longer. The money saved on pensions could then be spent decently providing for people unable to work.
With a four-day week, better use of travel-reducing technology, and more flexible working hours, we could help solve the pensions crisis, the transport crisis, the housing crisis and the social care crisis. It would also give people the time to retrain in middle age.
One of the interesting things that’s come out of my interviews with people at companies that have successfully implemented 4-day weeks is that the people who are best able to adjust to the new system often are a little older and a little further in their careers. They’re people who’ve been through the grueling associate’s program at some investment bank or did their share of all-nighters finishing a client’s Christmas commercial, really know how to do their jobs, and therefore have a good sense of how to redesign it– what parts they really need to focus on, what parts you can ignore, and what tasks can eat up your time if not carefully-managed.
Further, they’re a lot less likely to be impressed by bean bag chairs and a kombucha bar, and more impressed by being able to spend every Friday with their young child.