When you think of a billionaire what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Maybe some snobby, rich person who looks down on the working class? Well, one of those rich guys totally has our backs.
Plenty of us feel like we’re working way too much. Sometimes, these 40 hour work weeks seemingly drain the soul. Over time you may end up feeling like you’re just running in a hamster wheel. The last person you would expect to agree with you is the world’s second richest man, Carlos Slim. But, believe it or not, his philosophy emphasizes a shorter work week.
So how did this guy make so much money? Probably thanks to the extensive holdings in a hefty number of Mexican companies. Currently, Slim is the chairman and chief executive for two major telecommunications companies, América Móvil and Telemex. Given his belief that the working class breaks their backs for far too long during the week, he suggests an alternative schedule: an 11 hour, 3-day work week. But he does recognize there is a catch. People are living longer lives, and if we took up his idea to only work a few days a week, we would end up working until we were 70 or 75. According to Slim:
“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life. Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”
Slim isn’t alone in his theory. This study confirms that a three-day work week may be the best work/life balance, particularly for those over 40.
“Researchers found that working approximately 25 hours a week had a positive impact on cognitive functioning, while not working at all, or working more than 25 hours a week, had a negative impact.”
Optimally, that would involve workers putting in three 8-9 hour days. According to the researchers, that would provide the ideal balance. The work hours provide the ultimate dose of cognitive stimulation while not venturing into the area where work becomes a source of fatigue and burnout.
It should be noted that the study finds the” most damage to workers is done at the extremes, either not working at all or working in excess of 55 hours. Both ultimately damage cognitive functioning. Ironically, excessive work is more damaging than not working at all.
According to Colin McKenzie, one of the project’s researchers:
““Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time long working hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions.”
Of course other issues would have to be addressed if the world adopted a three-day work week. For instance, with all those in the corporate world spending four days off, how would the service industry compensate? Would there be enough employees available to provide the necessary service at the restaurants, hotels, etc. these newly freed workers would be enjoying. Assuming the three-day work week would also be valuable for the service workers too, simply having enough capable bodies to staff all the jobs could be a challenge.
Here at The Methodology Blog we agree that employees need a work life balance in order to see any productivity growth. And Slim isn’t just spouting words. He’s following up with action. In his company, Telemex–where there are workers who were hired as teenagers that are capable of retiring before they’re 50–he has offered workers a 4-day work week with full pay.
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