[LI] A 5- or 6-hour jobday (& why not “workday”)

Two items about shorter jobdays, each with comments why I don’t use “workday” in this context. The first is a reply to a posting, and the second is a posting of an older article about a 2-year experiment, 2-years after it was ended (and people returned to the standard 8-hour jobday).

Reply to a post by Roya Bauman about an article entitled “The 5-Hour Workday Gets Put to the Test,” December 2019 (posted December 2019)

Thanks for sharing this, Roya. It is interesting to note it as yet another discussion of this line of thinking and apparent trend (even if the WSJ article itself is paywalled).

You make some excellent points and I concur with them. However one might express them in a slightly different way with different implications – which I hope you won’t mind my exploring briefly.

I’ve come to think of “work” as much larger than what one does in the context of employment, although those two are often equated (and it is true that jobs, given the number of hours involved, often dominate our schedules). And in this larger sense, I’ve come to understand work as almost a sacred concept, encompassing as it may (and ideally should) service, teaching, and indeed actions as “beautiful prayers.” Even activities such as caregiving are work, even if done for love and not remunerated.

In that sense, the “workday” is not the same as what one might call the “jobday.” And it is shortening the latter (and/or the “jobweek”) that I’d argue is being experimented with. The extent to which we allow “work” to mean only “job” is for me the degree to which we limit understanding of the role and potential of work.

Reducing the number of hours on the job – especially as automation progresses and experience validates – would ideally allow restructuring of our personal workdays (people do a lot of interesting, valuable, and even creative stuff off the clock) as well as increasing time for leisure and family activities. (Was going to write “fun” but in some ways that actually can overlap with work as well.) All with balance and moderation.

This is not to minimize the importance of occupation and earning a livelihood, of course, but rather to seek a better perspective on their place in the larger scope of our activities and potential. Nevertheless, a clear set of distinctions in the matters of work and jobs (and for that matter income and wealth – I see these 4 and their shifting relationships as one system) will, IMO, be useful in navigating the changes ahead.

How the Six-Hour Workday Actually Saves Money: A Swedish experiment may have missed the bigger picture of how shorter days can mean long-term profit,” by Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg.com, 17/21 April 2017 (posted December 2019)

It’s been over 2 years since this interesting 2-year experiment in Sweden finished. Would be really interesting to have a follow up.

And again I’d submit that what was at issue was a 6-hour *jobday*. The work we do daily – in our households, community volunteering, etc. – extends beyond what we do at our jobs. How might analyses change if “workday” covered the time spent daily on job + other kinds of work (including commutes), with the important subset of hours each day on the job being consistently referred to as a “jobday”?


Other blogs > LinkedIn > LinkedIn articles & posts, 2019 (Aug-Dec)

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