Jobsharing: Why can’t we do this?

Sometimes I let my mind drift. Actually, it’s my chief talent. I’m a fiction writer so my mind drifts continually in scenarios that will only find existence on a printed page. I do believe writers who are able to write their fiction with verve and imagination while compiling the journalistic style of blogging with flair and professionalism, are the truly talented among us.

Sigh. Anyway, to get back to where I came in: Jobsharing.

I have never understood why some people are granted the opportunity to work for a full day (9-5) while others get nothing. To my mind, there’s a host of  jobs that could engage longer hours divided into two shifts.  The combination of longer productive hours, more leisure time plus more salaries for more people, can only boast well for an economy. As I see it. (And those of you who are already annoyed – just hang on, I haven’t finished.)

If we took the 8-hour day to a 12-hour day with two shifts of 6 hours each we would effectively increase job opportunities by probably more than 50%. More products would roll off the line, more people would be served in a day (I’m thinking of banks) and more people would have the money to buy the products and engage the services. Am I making sense?

Now here it comes: KABOOM! The objection: ‘But I can’t afford to earn less than I do.’ Translate: I’m not dropping my salary so that someone else can have a job.

But you see, the drop in salary shouldn’t be an issue. More products and services should reflect more income for organizations – enough to pay reasonable wages for a double shift. And more products mean more sales, and more sales should translate to lower prices.  More people employed means more investment and more taxes paid.

I realise there are many jobs where jobsharing may not be practical, but equally so there are many where it could work very well. With continuing population growth, plus the fact that people are living 10 – 20 years longer, it is clear that business and job creation alone, cannot keep up. With jobs declining worldwide, making the most of what is available is a viable option. We need to reinvent the daily working wheel.

There is also a growing movement towards the work/life balance philosophy. People have begun to realise that working their 10 and 12-hour day to impress the boss and climb the corporate ladder – or simply to get through the work that should be handled by two people – mostly leads to burnout, depression and broken families. Loads should be shared – and time given back to us to live our lives with greater fulfillment. In fact, I think that aspect should be added to the list of human rights.

Besides, there’s a final interesting point. Studies undertaken in the 1930’s showed that most people are only efficient at their jobs for 6 hours a day. Longer than that and they tend to lose concentration and make mistakes. The survey found that most errors occured in the time people worked beyond 6 hours. The recommendation was put forward for a 6-hour day to be introduced. Then came the war – and nobody bothered about that sort of stuff.

I’m sure that across the world in many industries, jobsharing is already in practice. But looking at my own country, South Africa, it’s a philosophy still unconsidered – and the unemployment situation is reaching crisis proportions. People are so quick to say it won’t work. But we’ve reached the moon and elasticized denims – so to my mind, nothing’s impossible. One thing’s for sure, with the current world population at nearly 8 billion, uncontrolled birthrates in many countries, and increasing longevity (thanks to modern medicine), we’re on a slippery slope with no brakes. Time for the 9-5 mindset to change.

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