The economist John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay in 1930 with the following title: “Economic Potentials for Our Grandchildren”. He predicted that given the continuous advancement of technology and the improvement of our standard of living, in this day and age, the working time should have been drastically reduced, reaching up to a minimum of 15 hours per week.
Nevertheless, the rule today – at least for the OECD countries – is still the standard of 40 working hours per week, while the pressure for more flexibility to increase the hours are intensifying.
However, the four-day work week or any other reduction in working hours, while maintaining the earnings of the five-day work week, is an idea that is gaining more and more popularity.
A key factor in bringing the issue of working time back into the public debate with regard to the future of work is the rapid technological developments in the fields of automation and digitization and their implications on the production process, which alter the content and organization of the workplace.
Reducing working hours, showing positive effects on the productivity, the health and the balance of family-professional life of employees, as well as in dealing with the climate crisis, can be a modern response to productive and social challenges of our era.
* Report synopsis by Vasilis Delis, Public Policy Specialist & Eirini-Akrivi Ntai, Economist, Co-ordinator ENA’s Social Analysis Unit
[Co-publication: ENA Institute & ThinkBee – Τhe report in Greek]