No One Over 21, Please


Imagine it — a 21-hour work week. How much different would your life be if you only worked 3 days a week? Well, the idea is out there, folks. And it doesn’t seem so far-fetched, once you start to look into the concept a little bit more.

The New Economics Foundation, an international workforce organization, recently published a report advocating for a 21-hour workweek in Europe. This report proposes a radical change to our standard 40-hour workweek. Their vision is this:

“Moving towards much shorter hours of paid work offers a new route out of the multiple crises we face today. Many of us are consuming well beyond our economic means and well beyond the limits of the natural environment, yet in ways that fail to improve our well-being — and meanwhile many others suffer from poverty and hunger. Continuing economic growth in high-income countries will make it impossible to achieve urgent carbon reduction targets. Widening inequalities, a failing global economy, critically depleted natural resources, and accelerating climate change pose grave threats to the future of human civilization.

A ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.”

So, would you be willing to earn less if it meant having more time to be with your family, take up a hobby, or just relax a little bit more? It is a compelling concept that can really get you thinking about what your time is really worth.

Something tells me that if the 21-hour workweek ever really happened, we would find a way to make it work. People tend to rise up to any new standards and fall back when standards or requirements are lowered. Somehow, we would find a way to get the job done in 3 days instead of 5. I think that the biggest changes would be felt by the first generation of workers that had to adjust. The following generations would just see it as the norm, like we did when we entered the 40+ hours a week workforce.

As we continue our gradual climb out of our economic hole, one thing is certain: nobody wants a repeat of what we have all been through over the past few years. Maybe now is the time for a radical change in how we approach our work and our lives?

Something to think about, for sure.  Check out the full “21 Hours” report here: