A couple of thoughts that we’ll tie together in a moment.
This is an interesting question, if we move to a four-day workweek, what do we do with the fifth day? Celine describes the adjustment and the guilt associated with just using it to rest. But also not using it just as a way to recuperate for working again.
Which got me thinking, if we are taking vacation time, sick time, or even going with a four-day workweek because it will help us come back and be more productive workers, then why bother? Is that all we are? Does everything we do, including what we do outside of work, have to revolve around our jobs?
Let me throw something else at you. According to Gallup, we are still “quiet quitting” at an alarming rate. They see this, of course, as a bad thing because, well let’s quote them:
In fact, almost four-fifths of the global workforce has either quietly or loudly quit, which costs the world’s economy almost $9 trillion per year.
Yes, all these disengaged workers are preventing the world from creating another $9 trillion per year. For who, and at what price?
Let’s consider this. According to Gallup, the goal for businesses should be to create workplaces where people want to be fully engaged, almost living their entire lives for the work, being the most productive little worker they can be, etc. We could create trillions more in wealth if we would all just stop having lives outside of work that prevents us from being fully engaged.
Left unasked in their dire warnings about unengaged employees is why we need another $7 billion per year in productivity. What is it good for? What does it get us, besides dystopian nightmare lives of nothing but work?
Similar to the way we have been culturally brainwashed into believing that work is an unquestionable moral and ethical good, and more of it is more moral, we have likewise been led down the path of profit, GDP, and productivity, which are also unquestionable moral and ethical goods, and the more of it, the more successful we are as a society.
We don’t stop to consider the price we pay for these so-called moral goods. We don’t consider all of the immoral decisions we make in pursuit of more money, more output, more work prestige, and more GDP. We don’t consider how massively immoral it is to view fellow human beings as a “resource” to be used to gain as much productivity as we can squeeze out of them.
Most of all, we don’t stop to wonder why anyone working for a large company would desire to be fully engaged only to watch the gap between what they have and what the CEO has continued to grow in a mind-numbingly large fashion.
Tellingly, while Gallup is writing headlines about all the money these disengaged employees are costing the world, their own survey has a little secret:
It’s only 23%, let’s not get crazy, but it’s never been good. We’ve never had this world of full engagement, but we are LOSING out on so much money!!
Meanwhile, the rates of mental health issues, addiction, suicide, and loneliness are also at all-time highs, and our rates of community involvement, friendship, and connection are at all-time lows.
Why do we think working more is any kind of solution? Because we all think working is what makes our lives have value and meaning. That’s not true. That’s never been true. That’s corporate bull.
Let me give the final word on this back to Celine’s article about what to do with that extra day:
In 1932 Bertrand Russell wrote: “Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines. In this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.”
Yet here we are, in the age of the most magnificent machines. Burnt out.