One day of work per week is quite enough

New research finds those that work for just one day a week are the happiest, and this bolsters the case for more working dads to reduce their hours

Agile Working


One day of work a week is enough according to new research from Cambridge University. A team of researchers looked at people’s happiness and how it correlated to the number of days they worked. They say their findings bolster the case for working dads to reduce their hours.

Inevitably the researchers found those that have lost their jobs in the last year are the most unhappy. They also reported higher levels of mental health problems. However the next group in the league table of misery are those that work five days a week.

The team say they expected to find that people working three or four days a week were happiest. That would allow them to combine the benefits of meaningful employment with life away from the workplace.

Instead the happiest people are those working just one day a week. Apparently just one day of work a week is enough to provide the benefits that come from employment.

The survey took in a massive 5000 participants. It looked at their work routines over the last year, a particularly turbulent period that saw many people furloughed or made redundant altogether.

Gender imbalances

The research was led by social sciences professor Brendan Burchell. He has himself gone part-time. Professor Burchell suggested that reducing the traditional 40-hour working week could help remedy gender imbalances in the home. A reduced working week would give many working dads more time to get involved with domestic work like cooking, cleaning and childcare. That’s been shown to be one of the most effective ways to drive gender equality by allowing women to progress their careers and encouraging a more gender equal outlook among children.

Previous research in the past 12 months has shown that women have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Mums are doing more domestic labour. According to research from Pregnant Then Screwed around half of mums who’ve been made redundant cited lack of childcare as a factor.

And there’s growing interest in the way men appear to be wedded to the idea that they ought to be the breadwinner. Bringing home the main wage is bound to involve working more hours.

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