TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (14.2.22) that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to reform working conditions and the working week itself. The author argues that, while a four-day work week is neither cost-free nor problem-free, these costs and problems are not real sticking points.
‘The disruption of the COVID pandemic has led many of us to reconsider our relationship to work, as well as our spending priorities.
‘Some are eager to return to pre-pandemic “normality”. Others have found working from home to be liberating and are keen to preserve their newfound autonomy.
‘Still others, such as health workers, are simply exhausted after two years dealing with the ever-changing demands of the pandemic. One manifestation of this exhaustion has been the rise of the “anti-work movement”, which rejects the whole idea of paid employment as a way to organise necessary labour.
‘A less radical response is increased interest in the idea of a four-day working week. A growing number of companies – typically in technology or professional services – are embracing the idea.’