HERE’S an interesting theory: Britain would be a far better place if we were all given Friday afternoons off.
Probably there’s plenty of logical arguments, empirical evidence and practical examples to prove this hypothesis, but mainly I tend to like this theory because, well, it would mean Friday afternoons off.
Who wouldn’t want that? My old man actually. He’s a bloke who reckons if you’re not doing something you don’t want to, you’re probably doing something you shouldn’t. He’s an accountant. Leave him to it, and move on.
But for plenty of us – you know, normal people – Friday afternoons off? Where do we sign up?
In Gambia apparently. The tiny west African nation – not so much a country as a river bank (a joke for the geography fans, that) – announced this week it was to abolish Friday working for public sector staff.
State officials will clock in Monday to Thursday before having a three-day weekend to recuperate, recharge, and presumably do the Gambian equivalent of sitting in the pub watching Sky Sports News.
An enlightened plan, in other words. Except for one small detail. Those workers will still be expected to do a 4- hour week. They’ll just have to cram it into their four days.
But it got me thinking: above and beyond the fact that Friday afternoons spent away from the office would appeal to my sense of the can’t-be-arsed-ness, wouldn’t it actually work as a national policy? Wouldn’t toiling an extra half hour every other day of the week followed by a midday finish on the last make huge sense for us, firstly, as individuals and, secondly, as a country?
Hear me out: I promise I’m not bowing down to my inner child here – although, frankly, show me a person who wouldn’t like to sit on the carpet and have a story read to them at the end of the week, and I’ll show you a cold-eyed liar. Just don’t admit that to the boss. He still looks at me a bit strange now.
Rather what that new work pattern would actually do is accept we’re products of evolution; and make allowance for the fact that by 1pm on a Friday the lactic acids flooding our bodies from lunch, combined with the natural fatigue from five days’ labour, means that frankly raising enough energy just to mess about on YouTube is hard enough – let alone raising enough energy to do anything productive. Which basically means it’s pointless us even being at work. We’re only skimming the time off. We’re only conning the bosses.
Far better surely to have a Friday-flex system where we can get things done over more efficient periods. It would also mean potentially more jobs to go round (reducing unemployment – ding, have that George!), while providing a major boost for the leisure economy with more people spending their extra free time enjoying days away, meals out, trips to the park and whatever else it is we do when we’re not chained to a computer.
In short, more leisure time, more jobs, a more vibrant economy and a happier nation – all just by giving us Friday afternoons to spend in the pub. I mean, spend with the family.