Basic Changes In Human Behavior

That sneak up without announcement!

In my early youth, my Dad worked six full days a week at the New York Stock Exchange — entailing a three-hour round-trip commute. Not long after, the Exchange made Saturday a half day and told the people who had long commutes to not bother!

Then lo and behold, barely a year later working on Saturday died altogether on Wall Street, followed quickly by the rest of the nation, and the five-day work week became the norm it has remained.

Fast forward three-quarters of a century. The Covid virus descended on the world early in 2020 and lots of things got scrambled up. Zoom became a proper noun, and virtual EVERYTHING became the new norm.  

Changes of all sorts were in the air, with no one certain whether they would prove fleeting or permanent.  Projecting into a post-Covid world has become vitally important for governments, business, and community organizations alike.

That kind of strategic forward planning, though, is very tough. It is VERY easy to be VERY wrong.

That said, I believe the era of the four-day workweek is about to be upon us.  Although the reasons are different, it is likely to look a lot like the shift to a five-day workweek in my youth.

The result then was an increase in productivity and profitability, as well as more leisure time.

Now as we slither into a four-day workweek similar changes will sneak into our lives.

Today, it has become painfully clear just how much time has been wasted – in cars and trains to and from distant offices; in endless meetings that serve no apparent purpose; in productivity lost to social media and online shopping, or the pesky intrusions of co-workers.

If the basic pay levels remain the same, even as the workweek shrinks, several things must follow:

  • Productivity will have to rise to meet previous levels of demand. That should be easy, particularly for workers who will remain (mostly) remote. Employers have already seen gains as employees informally “split the difference” of commuting hours saved.
  • And, spending on entertainment and recreation will also likely rise from even pre-pandemic norms – except perhaps cruise ships.

So, as we look for what to watch for spurts of growth, we already may have a few helpful hints to work with!


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