More time?

I work reduced hours. It started as an experiment two and a half years ago, when I was deathly exhausted from working full time with chronic pain and fatigue. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is so muchWhite_Rabbit_KHREC to be savoured in life, so much to do. Beautiful brothers to see grow up, writing aspirations to attempt, gorgeous dogs to hang out with and so much to read!

The New Economics Foundation in the UK are supporters of the reduced working week. By working less, more efficient and productive hours, they hypothesise that we would reduce stress on ourselves, the economy and the environment.

Obviously, we can’t all afford to do it. We need to increase wages in line with living costs. New Zealand certainly has a way to go to figure out how to make a more just system, but a pay rise for the lowest wages seem a good start. I am lucky to have managed to work in a sector that has endowed me with the skills and experience to, after a university degree and seven years working, earn enough money to subsist on a reduced income. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an opportunity cost, I don’t spend a lot on clothing, I don’t go on holiday very often (I haven’t been overseas since I reduced my hours) and I am frugal with my money.
This does mean that when I purchase something, it is almost always a measured decision and I am always grateful for it.
As someone who works 25-30 hours per week, I am efficient and “on” in my working hours. Afterwards, (after a quick rest), I get to have an afternoon! I pick my brothers up from school, supervise homework, walk the dog, cook a nice meal, read, write, whatever I like. I am a staunch defender of this lifestyle. For someone who is not struggling with a chronic illness, the “reduced hours” quota may look different.
But imagine, if your banker wanted to coach a primary school softball team and she got to finish work at 3 on a Thursday to do that? How much more willing to be helpful to her clients would she be? Imagine if your doctor, instead of being harried when they see you, their 20th patient that day, got to have one day a week off? Imagine if all mothers could negotiate a way to work only school hours? Well this one is easy, children would be supervised, nurtured, entertained – surely this would translate into healthy, happy young people with less likelihood of leaving school early, offending or drug and alcohol use.
21 hours
You can find the New Economics Foundation’s 2010 report 21 Hours exploring organisations that had introduced a shorter working week. The benefits they suggest a shorter working week would produce are:
  • Safeguarding the natural resources of the planet.
  • Social justice and well-being for all.
  • A robust and prosperous economy
Of course, they are aware that things need to change to accommodate this, including flexibility in the workplace and higher wages. I found it to be interesting reading, so you may too. 
Find an overview of the book here, which includes the introduction and chapter listings.

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