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I mentioned last week in the post ‘Can we Have it all’ that we are all given the same 24 hours… however how we use them makes the difference of our perception of time… (sometimes time races – other times it drags.) How would you feel if 21 hours was the new norm for the working week? This is an idea being proposed by the New Economic Forum (NEF) that – if money didn’t matter, if status didn’t matter – I’m sure plenty of people would embrace, given that RedBalloon’s own research shows us that individuals want more time to spend with their friends and family, creating memories.
In the report NEF says, A ‘normal’ working week of 21 hours could help to address a range of urgent, interlinked problems: overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low wellbeing, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.”
The report also makes an interesting distinction between three independent economies or ‘sources of wealth’: 1) human resources 2) assets and relationships inherent in everyone’s lives and 3) markets. NEF argues that we must recognise and value all three economies and make sure they work together for sustainable social justice.
Here is an interesting debate then. What if we began to consume less time a work and did things differently. Would a 21 hour week help get people off the consumer treadmill? What is ‘enough’? We buy much more than enough stuff. What we feel we need and what satisfies our needs are inflated well beyond what is actually required to live a good and satisfying life.
A core belief at RedBalloon is people need less stuff (material goods) in their lives, however people want more time with family and friends , and sharing experiences is about creating memories, rather than consuming. So the notion behind NEF’s 21-hour week intrigues me, even while it challenges me in regards to how businesses would adjust and run profitably. How would you work a 21-hour week? If it were mandated, what would change in your business?
And after spending my holiday with the family in the US… if there is one thing that the Americans cannot believe is that every Australian has 20 days annual leave a year… and yet our economy has faired well over the past few years. Is this the real case of less is more?
Your thoughts?

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