Less is more?

Posted by Kevin Soltysiak on February 25, 2016 Topics: France and Work

I am not a politician. I have not studied politics, economics, sociology, or anything related. So every time I read about a project from a government that seem wrong or plain stupid, I always wonder what am I missing? They can't be that blind, they must see something I don't!

The most recent example is a French law project that would change working conditions: among other things, the mandatory resting time would be reduced, the number of worked hours during a week raised, and under certain conditions the number of hours worked in a day.

I really can't see what good that would do. Would it decrease unemployment? No, because you could theoretically get more stuff done with the same number of employees as before.

Would it make your company more productive? Maybe, but that's not sure: working more than 7/8 hours in a day usually results in a decrease of productivity. Countries such as Sweden are even moving to a 6 hours work day.

Would it make people happier? Some, maybe. But usually, more work means more stress, more anxiety, more work-related health issues. Which doesn't help anyone. Not even companies.

It seems to me that if unemployment, productivity, and workers' general happiness are the goals, then a lighter workload might very well be a step towards those goals. Some studies have proven that for a given duration, we're significantly more productive than we were 10 or 20 years ago. We, as a workforce, are getting better at yielding results and yet we're being asked to give more and more of ourselves and our time, for diminishing returns.

I always thought one of the goal of industrialisation was to make machines do stuff in our place so that we can enjoy our free time, but that doesn't seem to be the direction we're taking. Something is wrong with this picture on many levels, but I really don't see who's to gain from these kind of laws.

Then again, I'm not a politician.