Work is good for you — but only one day a week, scientists say, Cnbc.com, 19 June 2019, Chloe Taylor
The Ultimate Work/Life Balance
“Working eight hours a week is the “recommended dose” for optimum mental wellbeing, British scientists claim. In a study published Tuesday, researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Salford set out to find a working pattern that would be most beneficial to employees’ mental health. It was conducted on the premise that the rise of automation would force companies to “rethink current norms” around working hours. The project examined the link between working hours, mental health and life satisfaction in more than 71,000 working-age people in the U.K. over a nine-year period. Participants were asked about issues including anxiety and sleep problems to gauge the state of their mental health.”
Through the WI Lens
In an era when the expectation is growing that AI and automation will soon be able to carry out much of the work done by people there’s increasing interest in how human work patterns will evolve. The research reported on here looked at this through the lens of mental wellbeing, and found that moving from not working to working for up to eight hours a week reduces the risk of mental health problems by an average of 30 per cent. After that, there’s no further gain, and it may well be conjectured that as the hours pile up, mental wellbeing would start to decrease. For most employers there’s little immediate prospect of being able to cut the working week so radically. But the simple lesson is that when it comes to work, less can be more. The productivity gains of automation should be re-invested in people’s lives, and in the meantime, the challenge is to make the longer hours worked by most employees an experience that boosts their wellbeing rather than becoming a source of stress and mental illness.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.