[This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News newspaper on the 6th of May 2019]
Thousands of people across Edinburgh today will be returning to work following the May Day bank holiday yesterday and will now be looking forward to the prospect of a four-day week.
To those who were still hard at work, thank you, I know not everyone gets’ the same luxury.
Over 150 years after the Trades Union Congress started fighting for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and began securing workers’ rights to things like paid leave and holidays; ideas that seemed radical decades ago have now become reality.
The TUC have said that a four-day working week would be possible if businesses were forced to share the benefits of new technology, like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, with their workforce.
This might too ambitious but it’s clear that many people are working too hard and we should be using automation and new technology to rebalance the relationship between work and life.
Workplaces around the country have trialled a shift to four-day working, with mixed results. Some have seen productivity and employee happiness go up, and others like The Wellcome Trust have decided against it with employees concerned about workloads being compressed into four days, the impact on childcare or other arrangements.
Maybe it’s an idea whose time has come, but surely there’s no harm in inviting the Scottish Government to study whether this really could be the future model of work in Scotland.