The views expressed in this article
are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the author.
Published here November 2017
The Author's Case for a Five-day Workweek
According to author Stephan Aarstol:
"In the last 40 years, productivity has just exploded in the range of 80% yet wages have gone up only about 11%. ... Companies are becoming highly automated, and highly leveraged. They are needing fewer and fewer employees, and they are able to replace full time employees with part-time workers at a much lower cost. But this isn't from losing your job to someone overseas, or any of the fear-mongering excuses you hear from politicians. ... It's technology and productivity.
But increasingly, in the new economy, employees are wanting to take back their time. To the younger generation especially, life is about much more than making money. It's about having time to do the things you love. To spend time with the people you love. That's what the five-hour workday is about.
The traditional employer mindset, still lingering from the industrial age, is that fewer hours means less output. ... But what employers are failing to see is, cheats have already been worked into the system here. They're making productivity gains every day, but they're not telling you. What are they doing instead? Facebook, Amazon shopping, vacation planning."
"... Why don't employers care? Because output isn't down. Productivity isn't down. What is down, however, is the total number of hours we need to do our work. That's part of where telecommuting comes from. It's from employees who understand that they need to get the hell out of the office, because they really only need two or three hours a day to get all of their work done. And now we've got a huge growth in freelance workers, and employees going to that side of the table, for (what I believe to be) the same reasons."
The author goes on to say that today is similar but different:
"In the early 1900s, the working class was barely able to meet their needs. If they weren't working, they weren't eating. Today, that's not the problem, for the most part. Working conditions are much more humane and tolerable now, than they were 100 years ago. Most people have the possessions they need, although many may be blind to it, due to high levels of consumerism and materialism. The crisis we're in now is less about wages, and more about time. That's a huge difference.
... I believe that many of our society's ills could be fixed if people worked fewer hours per day. There would be more family time, community engagement, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and all the higher pursuits and experiences that drive health and happiness. ... And to have experiences, you need free time. ... More free time to do with as we like is the key, not more money [which] is why we all need to spend less time at work."
"The average American worker is logging 47 hours per week now. About 25% of our workers report working more than 50 hours a week, and another 25% report working more than 60 hours a week. How insane is this? We're exponentially more productive than we were 40 years ago, and yet we're working 20-50% more hours per week? And we're doing it for 11% more pay? If you want a recipe for a societal crisis, this seems a pretty good one. An adjustment is long over due."
"As a result, thousands of entrepreneurs like me took advantage of these new opportunities, and built companies for ourselves. Talented employees went to freelance or consulting side, to get out of their wasteful office environments. These two types of workers entrepreneurs and freelance workers both have an incentive to pursue this newly available productivity. That incentive is time. Time to enjoy life.
Note to readers: All of this seems to assume that no "work" is ever enjoyable.
18. Ibid, pp38-40
19. Ibid, p40
20. Ibid, pp76-77
21. Ibid, p85
22. Ibid, pp85-86