Sat 20 October 2012, by Noémie BACK

Choosing for a 21hours/work week

Discovered a while ago, I like though to remember it and to read it again to think out-of-the-box the days where we want the world to change faster.
It’s quite inspiring and a great work of the New Economics Foundation that is busy developing an economic model around this new notion: the 21 hours work week.

The 21-hours-work-week is a new ‘norm’ proposing a work-model addressing all at once different issues and crises our society is facing today: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, CO2 emissions, low well-being, health issues, lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, enjoy life, etc…
Actually it is first of all interesting to question how we came to work so much per week in average in comparison with time spent with family or nurturing our own garden, etc. You can observe different work culture if you compare different cultures (Anglo-saxon, latin, indian, asiatic, etc). There is nothing natural or inevitable to our 40-45 see 50 hours/week.
By recalibrating our way of working, the 21-hours-work-week questions the fact to redefine the work rhythm in function of planet’s limits (lack of resources, too high consumption, etc) and society’s needs (health, economic issues, etc).

What holds my attention is how we could spend the free time for plenty of activities enhancing new dynamics, social as economic ones of course! More time to take care of the old generations, more time in family, more time for culture, reflection and personal development, more time to share, meet with others, practice sport or make crafts.
That could have as result a slow-down of our way of life and consumption patterns but not only.
This would allow to live more sustainably within planet’s limited resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Effects on tiredness, pressure, stress, sicknesses, etc could be directly valued (health) in our economy (I would at this point also ask myself what would be the impact on our retirement society pattern?…).

The 21-hours-work-week model is to be considered in a larger transition and could lead nevertheless to a change of norms and expectations. To be followed!

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