These last days, following Carlos’s Slim public statements favoring the adoption of a super-concentrated three-day working week and the news about the implementation of a pilot project in Goteborg (Sweden) by which a group of municipal employees would have a 6-hour working day (instead of 8), while keeping the salary intact, an old debate has re-emerged with force: if business models and organizations alike have changed in line with new competitive paradigms, shouldn’t workers and recruitment modalities change as well?
The answer seems pretty obvious: yes. However, as it happens with any change process prior to the adoption of a new dominant paradigm, the approaches on this topic are still confusing, primarily due to the fact that different perspectives from a variety of agents are being mixed. We’ll be reviewing them throughout the next posts.
Let’s start with a global perspective:
From the standpoint of the macroeconomic environment, the post-crisis situation in which we are in (just budding in some economic zones, far more consolidated in others) is conducive to reflection on its causes and the best ways to adapt to this new scenario. In line with this, looks like the Eurozone, with an average unemployment rate of almost 12% (compared to the 6.3% in US and 3.6% in Japan) and scandalous cases like Greece (27%) and Spain (25%) has all incentive to lead the development of new proposals. Given an outlook of this being a long-lasting scenario, the conclusion is evident: the current recruitment models and global relationship between supply and demand within the labor market are simply inefficient and unable to reverse the situation. Against this backdrop, some old (Keynes already proposed this) bizarre proposals are re-emerging again, such as the one proposed by the economist Arcadi Oliveres, who upholds a reduction in the average number of working hours per person to share them out among more people. This kind of (dangerous, read Jack Straw’s opinion on similar proposals) approach, which seems to be moving back 100 years, mixes social and political considerations through the lens of widely outdated economic doctrines, apparently from the premise of the existence of an unchangeable, local job demand for any given competitive environment. This level of job demand would be conditioned by workers in no way, just as if it was a big cake to be shared and we’d only had the chance to miserably stand in line, waiting to get our little slice.
Compared to that, the new dominant paradigm will necessarily be completely opposed, focusing on a serious rethinking of the organization and worker roles that encompasses a deeper employee accountability, a stronger impulse to entrepreneurship and an overall increased dynamism and mobility on the grounds that many new professional profiles shall be offered, created and entrenched by workers, instead of just demanded by organizations.
We’ll take a look at complementary perspectives in future posts
This article is also available in Spanish