News

A three day weekend every weekend - fantasy or the future?

IS A four-day work week the silver bullet to our overworked First World lifestyles?

According to one leading health professor from the United Kingdom, it is.

Professor John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, believes a shorter work week would give people more time for their families or exercising - and cut stress.

He even theorises the downshift might be able to help unemployed pick up the slack, reducing overall unemployment.

It sounds great, but how would a four-day working week look in practice? Would we be able to afford it? Would we really be happier, and healthier?

We asked people on Facebook who have already structured a four-day week into their lives what it was like.

Lismore local Dennis Pickford said he had been working 10-hour days across a four day week for 15 years and "it's great you don't even notice the extra two hours each day, and it's well worth the three day weekend."

It sounds wonderful, but senior lecturer from the Southern Cross University School of Health Dr Gary Mellor thinks otherwise.

Dr Mellor was sceptical about attempts to cram a 40-hour week into four days.

He cited research that showed if you decrease "recovery time", people are more predisposed to fall asleep at work.

"We need about six hours of interrupted sleep so that we don't feel too sleepy at work," he said.

"Some people don't keep regular shift patterns and by shortening their week... you run into this problem where they're not able to recover."

Dr Mellor also said taking money away from people by imposing a shorter working week would, funnily enough, actually make people less healthy, not more.

The comments were based on data demonstrating that people who earn more are generally healthier - up to a certain level of income, of course.

Research conducted by Southern Cross Business School Professor Yvonne Brunetto in the nursing, policing and engineering fields also suggests the reality of shorter weeks is murkier than at first glance.

Her research and found that where nurses and police officers had reduced their hours, it was often a forced situation, due to external budget cuts - and to add insult to injury they were often expected to do the same amount of work as before.

"Often they would physically take a pay cut and reduce the number of hours... but they still get the same amount done. That's where the pressure is," she said.

Her research also consigns to fantasy the idea that the unemployed might "pick up the slack", since where nurses and police officers did want a shorter week, they wanted to work the same number of hours over fewer days.

In fact Professor Brunetto said the modern reality was those employed were actually working more than ever - and it showed no signs of changing.

"I think it's a hidden problem in Australia," she said.

"A sizeable percentage of Australians work a 50-hour week. The research says these people don't get paid for it, but they have to do it in order to get their job done."

Like it or not, the working week is changing - for some

SELF-styled "business futurologist" Morris Miselowski reckons the way we do work in the future will change from a structured eight-hour work day to more piecemeal, project orientated work.

Mr Miselowski believes we will soon be "getting things done as, where and when they need to be done... rather than trying to shoehorn it into an industrial revolution constructed work week".

He goes on to say, "the ability to work where and when you want, will allow families to choose together time that suits them all", and to "re-frame family back into the centre of activity... ".

While it might be possible in certain project-orientated professions, it was equally impossible in others - such as shift-based professions - according to Dr Mellor.

"For every job you could do half of at home, there are just as many jobs you can't, such as construction and nursing."

Topics:  employment




REVEALED: 3 stunning local homes up for architecture awards

The Strong House at Ballina, by Barker Studio.

Sneak peek inside some of North Coast's most spectacular properties

Shark barrier to be moved into place today

Work has begun this morning to float the shark barrier into place at Lennox Head.

Process has begun this morning

CAUGHT: High range drink driver with no licence

DRINK DRIVING: Drivers put their own life and that of others at risk whenever they drink and drive.

Man tried to walk away from car, but returned positive breath test

Latest deals and offers

Falls Festival tickets go on sale today

Cold War Kids wow audiences at Falls Festival in Byron Bay despite the soaring tempratures and humidity. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

We've got all the details you need to make sure you don't miss out

Gladstone couple's spontaneous Gympie Muster wedding

Craig Oglesby and Brenda Strong celebrate their wedding at the Gympie Muster with punters in front of the Main Stage.

The Gympie Music Muster was the perfect place for a wedding.

Australian Survivor's Peter: I'm no quitter

Australian Survivor contestant Peter Fiegehen.

ILLNESS forces castaway's early exit from Samoa.

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m