Slim reiterated his three-day workweek proposal in Houston Monday saying the downside -– longer work hours and delaying retirement until the age of 70 to 75 -- would be more than offset by the fact people would have more free time to spend with families or for personal enrichment throughout their lives.
The Basic Structure
Although Slim offered few details, he did suggest an 11-hour workday, which would result in a 33-hour workweek if followed strictly.
This could mean, for example, a workday that began at 8 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m. (assuming an hour for meals and breaks).
A worker scheduled Monday through Wednesday would be off from 8 p.m. Wednesday until the following Monday morning.
Clearly working fewer hours in a week (33 versus 40) would be less attractive if pay was cut. That might not be necessary if productivity were the deciding factor.
The Economist pointed to a number of studies indicating that productivity begins to decrease the more hours worked in a single week.
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The Productivity Question
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that workers in Germany, for example, were 70 percent more productive than workers in Greece, yet put in 30 percent less time on the job each week than their Greek counterparts.
The Washington Post suggested one reason for longer hours leading to lower productivity. When companies –- who don’t want to hire more workers than they have to –- try to squeeze more hours out of the existing workforce, productivity trade-offs occur.
Increased Leisure Time
As Slim pointed out, “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”
The implication was that these “new entertainment activities” could actually result in the creation of new jobs –- especially in businesses that cater to leisure pursuits.
Changing The Leisure Landscape
More importantly, with people of all ages spending more time in pursuit of leisure –- throughout their lives, not just immediately following retirement -- the nature of leisure could change.
More rigorous sports and athletic activities could find resurgence with an expanded participation demographic.
The Guardian offered caution to a potential three-day workweek, starting with a concern that hourly workers would be eliminated from the system if it meant a pay cut.
This, the Guardian suggested, could lead to a shortage of hourly workers as the number of jobs in hospitality and entertainment increased to accommodate all the new leisure time among salaried employees.
Finally, Global News warned that safety concerns could prevent some professions from participating.
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.
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