4-day work week among ideas to improve work-life balance (Singapore)

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/4-day-work-week-among-ideas-to-improve-work-life-balance-here

Sounds like a good idea, to improve work-life balance and potentially solve several other problems like low birth rate (which will alleviate the problem of aging society).

Many people have the illusion that industrialization and technology have improved the work-life balance of ordinary workers, however the reality is quite the opposite.

Before industrialization, workers worked less hours and had more leisure time.

Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time.

Source: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html

The worst period seems to be right in the middle of the industrial revolution, the mid 1800s. Workers worked up to 70 hour work weeks (with low pay). Most of the profit went to the rich capitalists.

One of capitalism’s most durable myths is that it has reduced human toil.

http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html

Jack Ma once said:

People could work as little as three days a week, four hours a day with the help of technology.

Jack Ma (Economic Times)

Will this age ever come? Note that Jack Ma in another speech endorsed China’s 996 culture, which is to work from 9am to 9pm six days a week (CNN).

Philosophically, it seems that no technology will be able to eliminate work? It is the so called “Adam’s curse”:

He told the man, “Because you have listened to what your wife said, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. You’ll eat from it through pain-filled labor for the rest of your life.

International Standard Version

How to make work-life balance work (TED talk)

Quotes from the talk:

  • “People are working long hard hours at jobs they hate, to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like”

A book by the same speaker:


Fat, Forty, and Fired: One Man’s Frank, Funny, and Inspiring Account of Losing His Job and Finding His Life