It’s Wedneday, time to log off and relax | SMH & The Age

The Age 3 day weekend - 13 Sept 14reprinted from SMH | The Age – Saturday 13th September 2014

One of Britain’s leading doctors recently made headlines with his calls for the UK to switch to a four-day week, to help combat high levels of work-related stress, and to let people spend more time with their families or take part in health-promoting activities. He talks about a “maldistribution of work” that is damaging people’s health, and that the five day working week should be phased out.

This all sounds great in theory, particularly for those of us who put the hours in at the office, and it makes sense that people should be able to focus on the things that are important to them, rather than being chained to their desks.

However, before employers everywhere start to panic, I can’t help feeling the doctor ends up missing the bigger picture of where the concept of ‘work’ is heading across the globe. While a reduction in our 9-5, Monday – Friday routine is undoubtedly true, we are in fact going to experience a far more seismic shift.

So, exactly what is the future of work going to look like? Well, like it or not, the notion of a weekend will soon become obsolete, as workplaces move into a world that exists on a project and task basis.

That means the religious need for a weekend will become gradually irrelevant, as we increasingly work where and when it’s most appropriate, rather than shoehorning it into a regimented weekday pattern.

The increasing globalisation of our economies with multiple time zones is one of many factors driving this trend, as well as the growth of technology allowing us to work remotely, when and where we choose, with little or no compromise.

This ability to work where and when you want will allow families to choose together time that suits them all, to be able to come together for important events and school activities and to reframe family back into the centre of activity, rather than something that must be juggled in a busy week.

This evolution will change what it means to work, where work is done, what family and social time is and when it is done and will impact on all industries and many others and is not meant to be the only way to work in the future, but rather one of the continuum of work-style choices that we will choose from.

We are already seeing this evolution play out in certain industry sectors, but more in the form of general flexibility of hours.The mining industry adopts a ‘fly in, fly out’ roster where miners work for months on end and then take the equivalent time off. Doctors and nurses regularly work long hours then take time off in lieu. More and more businesses are allowing workers the choice to work remotely without having to come into the office.

Clearly, the four day week wouldn’t work for everyone, but at the moment, for many of us, it’s simply beyond our grasp. What’s important to recognise is that on one hand we have people locked into working excessive hours and on the other, we have those in part-time contracts, wanting more hours. A four day week would provide a comfortable middle ground, giving people, above all else, the ability to change the hours they work.

So, in a few years’ time, don’t be surprised if your relaxation time with the family happens in the middle of the week, while the weekend is spent in the office. Just remember that three day weekend waiting for you!

Morris Miselowski is one of the world’s leading futurists with more than 30 years experience advising businesses across 140 different industries on how-to adapt to today’s changing world.

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Eye on the Future - Sep 15, 2014 | All, Business, Horizon Trends, Work
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