Need an excuse to stay home from work? How about new research findings that a shorter work week is essential to combating climate change? European think tank Autonomy recommends that employees in the U.K. work far fewer hours in order to avoid a climate crisis. In fact, the think tank recommends people work only nine hours per week!
Although a nine-hour work week might sound too good to be true, there are many experts who are pushing for a four-day work week as a compromise. After the economic recession in 2008, Utah became the first state in the U.S. to experiment with a mandatory four-day work week — and found many benefits.
The newest findings are based on greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to decarbonize the economy. Autonomy is careful to say that a reduced work week is only one out of many ingredients that should go into a comprehensive and urgent plan to reduce carbon emissions.
“Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies — a shorter working week being just one of them,” Autonomy director Will Stonge told The Guardian. “This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like.”
The benefits of working reduced hours include both environmental and social impacts.
With a shorter work week, fewer people would commute, which would significantly reduce transportation-related carbon emissions and improve air quality. According to the report, a “1 percent decrease in working hours could lead to a 1.46 percent decrease in carbon footprint.” Additionally, fewer workers would also mean fewer goods produced and resources used, which would ultimately be more sustainable than our current rate of over-consumption.
Being overworked also encourages unsustainable habits by stressed and rushed employees, such as driving instead of walking or buying ready-made meals packaged with single-use plastic instead of cooking.
Evidence also suggests that working shorter hours would improve employees’ mental health and well-being without losing productivity. Employees would have more time to exercise, cook, relax and build social ties, enabling improved focus while on the job.
Employers likely aren’t going to buy the argument for a nine-hour work week any time soon, but the report confirms similar findings that “the climate crisis calls for an unprecedented decrease in the economic activity that causes GHG emissions,” or in other words, the “necessity to be lazy” — or at the very least a reconsideration of how industrial societies have defined lazy.
Via The Guardian
Image via Freddie Marriage