How would you like a three-day working week? Scientists have confirmed that too much work can deteriorate brain performance – it diminishes memory, rational thinking, and overall mental health. Will the weekend be extended by at least one day in the foreseeable future?
Scientists have been examining the cognitive ability of several thousand people over the age of 40. The results were then matched to the number of hours these people worked per week. It turns out that there is a close relationship between work and intelligence. If people worked less than 25 hours a week, their mental capacity increased, and when they worked more than 25 hours, the exact opposite occurred.
The results of the study collected by Japanese and Australian scientists were published by the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Melbourne.
“Work seems to initially stimulate brain cells. However, at a certain stage, stress is associated with physical and mental work, and the initial positive effects of work to the brain begin to reverse. Doing too much work, in terms of cognitive functions, is worse than when we do no work at all,” explains Colin McKenzie of Keio University in Japan.
Young People can work longer shifts
According to scientists, the impact of work on the cognitive abilities of people under the age of 40 is not quite as prominent. “We’ve concluded that the ability to recover the brain in younger people is different. Young people tend to be more resistant to the effects of long shifts,” says Colin McKenzie.
In addition, middle-aged people are under greater pressure. It is related to the important social role they have in this stage of life. Most middle-aged people have to bring up kids or teenagers as well as caring for their own aging parents.
Will we ever work less?
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will ever work less, but we can work more efficiently and strive for a better work-life balance. In Sweden, for example, the introduction of a standardised six-hour working day has already been tested with successful results. People were at work for less time but doing the exact same amount of work, and getting the same wages as they would if they were working the original 8 hours a day. After some time, the participants of the test began to feel significantly happier.
Reducing working hours will soon be inevitable due to the rise in robotics and digitization, some scientists suggest. Partial or complete disappearances of the profession of clerks, drivers, cleaners, chefs, and bricklayers can be expected. In around ten years, it is predicted that there will no longer be any cashiers at supermarkets, and in twenty years, we might not even go to the supermarket anymore, as all goods will be purchased online and delivered straight to your door.
How do you feel about shorter working hours?
Author: Holly Webb