Thursday, 10 November 2011

Save The World By Changing The Nations Working Hours (A Manifesto)

A major problem with the way that all of society operates is the time in which we do everything.

Let me explain: An average work day for an average person in Britain is 9-5.30 Monday-Friday. With an hour for lunch usually 12-1 or 1-2.

Now already this fundamentally isn't fair. It's a well documented psychological fact that some people really are night owls, and some really are early birds. They just are, that's just how it works. Some people can just get out of bed at 6 O'clock in the morning, welcoming the day with big grins on their smug faces, while others gloomily force themselves to let go of the duvet and pour giant cups of scalding coffee down their throats in the hope that the burning nerve endings will send enough electrical signals to the brain to shock it awake. Which is why morning people always have happy sing-song voices while the others croak their way through the AM like toads with lung cancer.

People often say these people should just go to bed earlier - that if they weren't still scouring music forums or shooting japanese children on MW3 at two in the morning they'd find it much easier to get up. But we all know this isn't really true. Night owls don't go to bed early, because they can't sleep that early. Just like the early risers will pass out on the sofa if they even try to stay up past Newsnight.

So why then, must the night owls be punished daily by being forced to adhere to the same working times as the early birds? I should make it clear now that I put myself in the night owl group. I usually don't go to bed anytime before 2am, and that's only because I force myself to - knowing that I have to get up at 8 in order to get to work. If I didn't feel I had to do this then I probably would never go to bed before 4 because that's when my body wants to sleep.

And that's exactly where the problem is. If I'm having to force myself to go to bed when I naturally don't want to, just so I can get enough hours sleep before I force myself to get up when I naturally don't want to, then that is not only going to have an effect on my mental and physical health, but also make me really pissed at whoever's making me do this.

So I come in to work already in a bad mood, as well as being tired. For at least the first couple of hours of the day I'm not going to be working at full capacity because half of me is still wishing I was in bed. And that's the same for all those people who are naturally inclined to sleep late and get up late.

And it could be so easily solved. What if, instead of all workers coming in at 9 and leaving at half 5, we had a system in place where each employee could say whether they were an early bird or a night owl? Let the early birds keep working the same hours they do now and let the night owls come in a couple of hours later, and leave a couple of hours later. Still have everyone working the same number of hours, just some people will work 9 to half 5 and others will work 11 to half 7. As long as everyone's working the same number of hours, what difference does it make what time they start and finish?

The benefits would be huge. Staff would be happier because the night owls would be better rested and the early birds wouldn't have to hear their moral lowering complaining or watch them yawn all the way through a morning meeting. And people get to work at times that they know they work better in. Not to mention everyone becoming much healthier. If you can come in to work at a time of your choosing, that not only gives you enough time to sleep as much as you need, you don't have to rush to get ready in the mornings. You can take your time. Personally, I haven't eaten breakfast since I was 16. That's just not a meal that exists for me any more because I choose to spend that time getting more sleep. But if I didn't have to try and shave down that time between waking up and going to work, then I'm sure I'd enjoy a nice, leisurely breakfast and be healthier and more alert in the mornings because of it. PLUS there'd be no more rush hour traffic, reducing road rage, stress and accidents. If this was implemented everywhere then as a nation we'd be happier, healthier and less prone to stress, depression and other anxieties that can be caused by lack of sleep.

IN ADDITION TO ALL OF THAT there's a massive bonus benefit to literally everyone. Think about all the things you have to do outside work. Maybe you have to take your car to the garage. Maybe you have to get a haircut. Maybe you have to go to the bank. As it stands all these places operate on the exact same hours that everyone works. Need to go to the post office? Guess you'll have to do it on your lunch break. Oh, but you also have a dentist appointment on the other side of town at that point. And when exactly are you going to have lunch? Well you'll just have to grab what you can and shove it down as you rush back in to work.

But if work hours are more spread out across the day, then they're more spread out for everyone. Say you're an early bird. You wake up (naturally) at 6am. You go in to work at 7.30 and you finish at 4 in the afternoon. Need to do all those other jobs? No problem. There's a night owl garage that you can take your car to at 8pm, just after you've been to post that thing at the 24 hour post office and before your 9 O'clock dentist appointment.

Just think about how easy the internet made shopping. You can go on Amazon in the middle of the night and browse the new DVDs. Now imagine everything works on that basis. Imagine we operated in a fully 24 hour commercial society. Imagine not having to think about when things are going to be open, and trying to fit everything you need to do in to those time restraints.

Enough of these ridiculous 9-5.30 working hours. Let people decide whether they want to work early in the day or late, and let the working hours take up a wider part of the day. The nation will be happier, healthier, less stressed, less depressed and much, much less tired.

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