Abigail Marks, Henry Food, Rob Owen discussed on Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal

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Burnout. Who's with me. It's taken center stage in this pandemic with remote work blurring the divide between home life and the office and for those working in person. The pandemic has added a whole different level of stress. Some companies kickstarter and unilever among them are testing a four day week to combat overworking and lift. Morale abigail marks is a professor of the future of work at newcastle university in the uk and wrote a piece for the conversation recently about the strategy. I asked her how we got the whole five day. Forty hour workweek in the first place in the. Us people tend to talk about the origins associated with henry food. People eventually move towards an eight hour. Working day five day working week in the k the resists of industrialists could rob owen. Who said eight hundred work. Eight hours leisure rest. It clearly has staying power but it seems like a lot of companies and governments are starting to rethink it. Why is it something like a four day week starting to catch on. I think there is a realization that the work that people were undertaking in the factory. And at the start of industrialization is very different to contemporary work. And that there's a lot of evidence that people are burning out they're overstressed. The rover burton. The actual intensive work is much more than it was even ten fifteen twenty years ago and is having a detrimental pet on people's well-being but in your piece in the conversation. You suggest that a four day week isn't necessarily the panacea some might want it to be. What are the shortcomings. I think the intention of reducing working hours is a really really were-they one and i think it's right. I think the problem is employers clearly going to try and force five days work into four days which is going to make already exhausted people. If more exhausted. I think only works with particular groups of workers. Some professional workers but uber drivers people working the gig economy and people work in. Hospitality is not gonna fly. So then i think ends up being quite divisive and separates the privilege from those that are in much more vulnerable positions right. And you say you know if people are working more intense -ly during a shorter number of hours. That doesn't necessarily improve. Well being absolutely. And i think you really needs to take a good careful. Look at what we can do to reduce people's where content stick whether that is reducing the volume of work changing the way that people's productivity is defined dissolves size if we had a universal basic income than it makes it much easier to reduce hours to the four day working week. But it's not so easy just to say three day weekend when we're in a twenty four hour seven day a week society. These ideas have just been highlighted by the pandemic With so many workers feeling burned out and remaining extremely productive even while working remotely. How do you think this will change the way we think about structuring that the workday as we move forward as you said from the pens on we we know homework can did not decrease productivity in fact increased but we also know it decrease people's well-being because of what content certification due to the complications of pandemic working. What worries me is that employers. Thanks to believe the hybrid working is going to equal productivity but also not think about people's workload and what they're actually doing still going to have this really complex situation with increasing wilkinson's mutation so if knocking on a day off the work schedule doesn't work for everyone. What alternative stacey. I think we need to look at what people are doing whether it is reasonable to expect people to work in the way that they're doing considering life is structured in a very different way to the way it was at the early industrialized era. Need to look at working hours because people aren't working eight hour days that taking work home with them. The looking at emails at ten o'clock eleven o'clock at night so the eight-hour working day in some ways becomes amid. So we really need to look at what we can do to support employees if they are working in our day to have really good breaks to ensure that aren't periods. Where the feeling really really stressed to make sure that the not taking work home with them. Abigail marks is a professor of the future of work at newcastle university.

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