The Financial Times recently reported that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim suggested that workers shift to a three-day work week. During a speech at a conference in Paraguay, Slim advocated his suggestion for radical change in the typical five-day work week.
The paper quotes him as saying, “People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week—perhaps 11 hours a day.” Based on estimates, Slim is the world’s second richest man, thanks to the wealth earned from Telmax, a telecom company. Workers at Telmex are now able to retire before they are 50 years old in some cases. However, reports also indicate that those eligible for early retirement are given the option of a four-day work week at full pay upon reaching retirement age.
“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” says Slim. “Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”
Presently, employees in Mexico work more hours than their counterparts in any other country, according to a study by the OECD, an international economic forum. The study demonstrated that workers there work 2,317 hours a year, or 44.6 hours a week, compared to an average of 1,798 hours a year in the United States.
In 1938, the 40-hour, five-day work week became a standard for U.S. workers. Despite gains in productivity and predictions of a significantly shorter work week that would follow, it has remained the standard for more than 75 years.
Though the standard work week is still the most common arrangement for full-time U.S. workers, 43% of employers offer at least some workers the option of a shorter week, according to the latest survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Currently, the concept of working a compressed week is popular with employees. In 2008, a survey of workers by the Families of Work Institute found that 46% of workers that were offered the option of a shorter work week chose to work it at least some of the time. Additionally, of those not offered the option, 59% of them would like the option of a more compressed week.
Would you want to work a compressed work week? Do you think that it would be beneficial to workers and businesses?