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The big idea: should we work less?

The big idea: should we work less?

The big ideaBooksThe big idea: should we work less? A shorter working week could benefit society, the environment – even the economy. Is it time to reassess our relationship with our jobs? Sarah JaffeMon 11 Oct 2021 03.00 EDTLast modified on Mon 11 Oct 2021 03.48 EDTFor the last year and a half, most people have fallen into one of three categories: the unemployed, whose jobs disappeared during lockdown; the work from home brigade, who balanced family responsibilities or solo strain with a workday that extended even longer sans commute; and those who were still going to work but under hazardous, sometimes terrifying conditions, whether in healthcare or grocery stores or meatpacking plants. In so many of these cases, much of what made work enjoyable or at least tolerable was stripped away, and we were left with the unpleasant reality of what our jobs actually were: not a fun pastime, but something we have to do. As Amelia Horgan notes in her book Lost in Work, “We, almost always, need a job more than a job needs us. Our entrance into work is unfree, and while we’re there, our time is not our own.”Yet for all its misery, Covid-19 did show us that it was possible to radically change the way we live and work, and to do it quickly. And it’s worth remembering that working life pre-pandemic wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows for many people – a UK poll early …