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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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A four day working week?

25 May 2020

For part of my working life, I operated on a 4-day working week.

Well I lie. I actually worked for an employer four days a week and on my own enterprises for the other three. However, I really felt that four days a week in someone else's employ was the sweet spot.

If you only work four days then there can't be a "hump day" in the middle that becomes a grind -- can there?

Now we have the PM suggesting that employers should consider allowing staff to have a 4-day working week as a way of both boosting productivity and allowing people to have more time to spend travelling and visiting other parts of the country.

Sadly, I fear that she is dreaming.

This report by our favourite tabloid source "Stuff" makes reference to the case of company Perpetual Guardian that experienced a 20% increase in productivity by shifting to a 4-day working week.

Sadly, I expect that their case is more the exception than the rule. If all businesses could effectively get five day's work done in four then I'm sure they would structure themselves so that this was already happening.

The reality is more likely that most companies would lose 20% of their workforce effect if they shifted to a four day working week and given the stress that many businesses are already under, few would be in a position to withstand that hit to their bottom line.

Of course they could simply pay workers only for the four days they worked but then it would be wage-earners who'd suffer the penalty and I doubt there are many hard working Kiwis being paid by the hour who could afford to take that hit.

And all this to supposedly prop up our Tourism industry?

WTF?

Why don't we just say "The domestic tourism industry will be largely unchanged but those who rely on overseas visitors my have to go the way of the buggy-whip manufacturers".

Not all businesses are viable for all time.

I don't see many companies making lead-based typesetting equipment, carbon-paper, typewriter ribbons, mechanical adding machines, film for cameras, VHS cassette tapes, radio valves or similar items even though, all these things were big business at one time or another.

The world changes, business models become outdated and fail. Adapt or die.

The whole rest of New Zealand can't be expected to endure pain just so that one industry can be propped up in the hope that one day it will become great again.

To be honest, I think international tourism will revive, and a lot quicker than many might think. However, businesses must stand or fall on their merits and the accumen of their management. Welfare is for people, not for profits.

I'd love to see the analysts and economists rubbing their crystal balls to come up with some figures and predictions as to what would happen if, instead of sitting around and waiting for tourism to become our largest or second-largest export earner again, we focused on growing other industries or... (gasp) even on obtaining as near to 100% self-sufficiency as was possible.

Could New Zealand function as a totally unsular economy and if so, what would be the pro's and con's?

If we forewent the hi-tech luxuries of life and transitioned to a society where "use of" was prioritised over "ownership of" assets, could we all enjoy a far higher standard of living and a more egalitarian structure?

Would we actually want that?

Might we become a world within a world. A world where quality of life was measured by equality of the people, the health of the nation and the harmony in which we all live.

Yeah, you can tell I need more sleep right?

But to the comments with you... what's your take on this four-day working week?

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