As Americans return to work after their extended weekend for Labor day some people are calling for the United States to adopt a four day work week.
In a timely article in New York Magazine America was noted as a top country in terms of productivity and was only outshone by citizens in Luxemburg. However, Luxemburg workers enjoy the luxury of working less hours for the same productivity.
Many social scientists have long argued that working longer hours does not necessarily correlate to the same level of productivity and that the working time of an employee creates produces a better output when they are feeling refreshed and are feeling good about their work.
All Round Benefits
Once the idea is explored further a plethora of benefits can be extracted from the simple notion of a shorter work week:
- Social wellbeing is enhanced as family time is lengthened and improved, and people are feeling less rushed to go about their daily business;
- The environmental impact of reducing the need to travel to work by 20% is notable as well as reducing noise pollution and opening up the built environment as the need for car parking spaces is reduced;
- The demand for office space could be reduced as people could choose the hours they work. Business could even share office space in some circumstances;
- Time off from illness has been seen to be reduced as depression is greatly reduced and people undertake healthier lifestyle activities in their time off.
Notable billionaires such as Larry Page and Carlos Slim have spoken openly about the benefits of the idea and several Trade Unions are behind the idea as the benefits are self evident. CNBC have cited a report which shows that over two thirds of millionaires questioned in one study said they believed the idea of a four day week is “a valid idea”.
While the notion of a four day work week may seem like it is a radical modern idea it has actually been on the cards for decades. It was only a couple of generations ago when our ancestors would be working manually for 6 or 7 days a week for 12 or more hours each day. It was normal for them to live short lives and to reach the age of 60 would be unusual.
Over time labor laws have been introduced, work patterns changed, the types of jobs have changed and 40 hours became the norm. Flexible working patterns are also commonplace and ideas such as ‘Summer Fridays’ have been adopted.
Although it may not fully happen in our working life times, it does seem that the four day work week will be adopted by some forward thinking companies in the not so distant future, especially with a gang of proponents behind the notion of longer holidays.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
DIY enthusiasts across the US are faced with yet another alert over the use of their credit and debit cards, as the chain store Home Depot investigates a potential hack on their computer systems.
Online security expert Brian Krebs posted the warning on his blog which warns that the retailer may have been exposed as far back as April this year. The chain has admitted that it is investigating what it calls “unusual activity” in relation to customers data.
40 Million Cards
In a shocking announcement Home Depot revealed that details of over 40 million debit and credit cards belonging to its customers may have been taken during the 3 week period in which it was targeted.
Whilst this may seem unbelievable to most onlookers unlike much of the rest of the world the United States still uses the old technology of swiping the customers card when payment is taken. This reads the data from the magnetic strip on the card, uses it and stores it. The modern ‘chip and pin’ technology works in a much more sophisticated way rendering simple attacks such as this much less probable.
The company has said that the event has cost it $150m but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg when considering that the company runs over 2000 stores in the US. Quite unsurprisingly the chief executive had little option but to resign from his position.
In response to the revelation the Home Depot’s shares fell by over 2% in the Dow Jones Index as the company tries to get to grips with the blunder.
The details of the cards are reported to have gone on sale on the dark side of the internet as past customers of the store await to see if they are going to fall victim to somebody using their card details. As word gets out about the crime many customers are calling their banks and other institutions to report their card lost or stolen so that with immediate effect their card is blocked, rather than taking a chance.
Krebs suggests that there are signs the perpetrators could be part of an Eastern European gang who have previously conducted the same attack on other US companies such as P.F. Chang’s and Sally Beauty.
If it is part of, or relates to, the same gang then the motives behind the crime (apart from the obvious financial gain) are said to be ‘sanctions’ against the US in retaliation to sanctions imposed by America on Russia in light of recent political events in the area.
Such events are becoming more and more widespread and attacks citing similar sanctions have been seen in other western countries including the UK as the criminal underworld are finding elaborate ways to bring their cause to the fore of international news as well as causing internal security issues within the target countries.