Un interessante articolo del Guardian su come la riduzione della settimana lavorativa potrebbe contribuire a cambiare la vita nelle città riducendo il traffico, l’inquinamento e aumentando il tempo di ciascuno da mettere al servizio della comunità locale.
Qui il link e il testo per comodità di lettura:
What do you think of when you think of city life? Working hard and playing hard? Being on the move 24 hours a day among the brightly coloured lights, manoeuvring through crowds while avoiding eye contact? Traffic jams and hooting horns, stimulation and frustration?
And out of the city? Peacefulness, starlight, space, tedium? An advertisement for a holiday break in Cornwall talks of “the importance of slowing down – escaping city life”.
It doesn’t have to be like this, but only if employers start to move towards the gains that are there for the taking.
City life is indeed fast. This has been studied using walking speed as a proxy: between the early 1990s and 2006, average city walking speed increased by 10%, with the biggest changes in Guangzhou (China) and Singapore.
And while working hours are not necessarily longer overall in cities than in rural areas (where proportionately more people are self-employed or work from home), certainly high-pressure industries such as finance and insurance, where all-night and weekend work is expected, are concentrated in cities.
Overworking is bad for our health and wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundationsays that “the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population”.
Common sense tells us that life is better when it is balanced, with time to look after ourselves and our loved ones, and to experience life in the round, as well as to strive and achieve. As the New Economics Foundation has pointed out, the fetishisation of work is making us miserable.
A healthier, slower city life is possible if employers allow more flexible working.
A third of workers say their boss thinks the ideal employee should be available 24 hours a day, according to a recent poll run by Relate, and that work should come before home life. Over a quarter work longer hours than they would choose.
More flexible working and shorter hours would be better for employers as well as for employees. As the Timewise Foundation says, employers attract extra candidates and a more diverse pool if they hire flexibly, because many talented workers cannot consider a full-time role.
Also, both efficient work and the best ideas come from workers with energy – whoever did their best work when they were exhausted?
And less time commuting to and from work would, theoretically, reduce transport chaos and pollution in our cities and allow us to spend more time in our local communities.
A few companies are starting to get the picture. Californian advertising company Steelhouse announced in 2016 a long weekend every month for all its employees. Japanese clothing company Uniqlo, the year before, offered the option of four longer working days.
UK charity Working Families benchmarks the flexible working practices of its employer members; in 2016 its top employers included a number of big names from the finance sector, such as Citi, Deloitte and EY.
But crazy fast-must-be-better city culture still dominates. Will 2017 be the year the balance tips and enlightened businesses start to support our cities to become more human and humane places that are better for all?