Friday, August 01, 2014

3-day work week will 'increase productivity' says Telecoms tycoon

A three day working week is the key to productivity, according to Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim.

The world’s second richest man called for a “radical overhaul” of people’s working lives, suggesting at a business conference in Paraguay that workers should retire later, but take more time off.

“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,” he said.

The self-made billionaire’s suggestion that a three-day work week would generate a healthier and more productive work force comes in the same month that leading British doctor, Professor John Ashton, called for the country to implement a four-day work week to combat work-related stress.

Mike Emmott, Employee Relations Advisor at The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said Slim was at risk of ‘over-claiming’.

“The implicit message that you can work less and produce the same amount and live a happier life is overstated,” he said.

“Three days is a stretch to get a full working week in, if you regard a work week as at least 35 hours. But there’s quite a lot of anecdotal evidence of people working a four day week, particularly in parts of the civil service among a number of governmental departments.”

Slim backed his view that three work days per week and longer careers would improve quality of life by offering a voluntary scheme to employees of his Telmex fixed-line phone company in Mexico, which would allow staff to keep working on full pay beyond the age that they are eligible to retire, but for only four days a week.

Emmott commented: “The real problem with these stories is it looks too good to be true, and that’s because it is – because people imagine that they are being told that they’ll be as productive working three reasonable length working days as they would in five and that just isn’t true – the sums don’t add up.”

“I think the argument for flexible working is a strong one, but flexibility doesn’t mean exactly what you want it to mean, if you want to produce the output and run a reasonable life outside of work there’s a limit to how many hours a day you can sustain in the long term. But I’m all for working longer in so far as the work is able to match people’s preferences.”