“To safely reopen, make the workweek shorter. Then keep it shorter. This crisis is the ideal time to make radical changes to how we work.”
“Working time and flexible working have taken on a new significance, and many of the changes to work which have happened are likely to be made permanent.”
The way we work has been fundamentally challenged:
And there are some really interesting ideas and projects out there, including Universal Basic Income and the Four-Day Week:
As considered by the New Economics Foundation:
Covid-19 has impacted our societies and economies unlike anything that has preceded it. It has exposed the vast inequalities which exist in our societies, and most clearly in the world of work. However, it has also meant that working time and flexible working have taken on a new significance, and many of the changes to work which have happened are likely to be made permanent. At any rate, the pandemic and its aftermath have made it all the more urgent to move towards a shorter working week, and to ensure that we emerge from the crisis with a better world than the one we had going into it.
The NEF has just published the sixth newsletter of the European Network for the Fair Sharing of Working Time, which you can download here:
Over a few years, the shorter working week has become a mainstream issue in many European countries. This newsletter details the latest developments across the continent, giving concrete examples of trade union campaigns, organisational shifts to shorter hours, the latest research on shorter hours, and relevant policy changes which are occurring at an increasingly frequent rate.
The sixth edition discusses national leaders calling for a four-day week in response to the pandemic, a publishing company in the UK which has recently moved to a four-day week, the launch of a Spanish four-day week campaign, and much more.
And from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang who’s written extensively on the topic:
To Safely Reopen, Make the Workweek Shorter. Then Keep It Shorter.
Even as COVID-19 cases mount, companies are making plans to reopen. Everyone is keen to get back to work, but epidemiologists caution that a rush to recommence business as usual could spark a second wave of fatalities, and that employers need to implement measures to prevent virus transmission among workers, or between workers and customers. Much of the planning—by real-estate companies, architects, and public-health officials—revolves around implementing new technology, or renovating spaces to enforce social distancing: installing temperature checks at building entrances, upgrading ventilation systems, making elevators and doors voice-activated, and making open offices less crowded and virus friendly.
But redesigning space is not the only option for businesses that want to reopen while lowering the risk of a second wave. They can redesign their time, too. Reducing hours, without cutting salaries, might help many companies speed up the return to normalcy, and help them prepare for the future as well.
The logic is simple. About 70 percent of offices in the United States are open plan, with people working at desks four or five feet wide and 30 inches deep, often surrounded by co-workers on three sides, and sharing common spaces like elevators, hallways, meeting rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. To follow OSHA recommendations and enforce social distancing in the office without leasing new square footage, companies will have to reduce the number of people in an office by about half…