Ben Bartosik

January 26, 2024

Reading an article this morning on the four day work week and how, separate from a worker right's movement, they just become an employment perk. The author, Oshan Jarow, notes,

"The deeper issue is that convincing companies to adopt four-day weeks does little to change the balance of power between workers and employers. Left unchanged, the negotiation over how many hours should constitute “full-time” would continue being held in the boardroom, where workers and their interests are largely without representation, and given today’s hampered labor movement, without much influence. That would significantly reduce the scope of our potential leisure time by leaving employers — rather than workers or an empowered labor movement — in virtually sole control of deciding when economic growth translates to more time off."

The main point behind the article is that we have stopped seeing productivity increases translating into more and better leisure time for workers; instead it has mostly just increased profit for employers. It also highlights the role and value of leisure time in our lives, something that the current capitalist system wants us to ignore. Rather than seeing the richness that leisure time can bring, we are increasingly asked to find value, meaning, and relationships in our work. Hustle culture was the previous incarnation of this. Now its the rise of solopreneurs and a sharper focus on company culture. These aren't bad in and of themselves, but they will never replace the meaning that good and frequent leisure time can provide.

We are in a time when people are increasingly cut off from their neighbours and surrounding communities, mental health crises are compounding, smart phones give us the ability to always be 'on,' and civic engagement is decreasing. Just as public space can be a physical solution to many of our problems, leisure time can a metaphysical one.