General Question

willbrawn's avatar

What if.... everyone in the USA was able to work Monday - Friday?

Asked by willbrawn (6603points) March 15th, 2009

How would that benefit us?
Would parents be more involved in there childrens lives?
Would there be less obesity?
Healthier relationships?
Less crime?

My bases is that it would help families be together again?
Any thoughts?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

42 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

This question is based on the premise that families are basically emotionally functional, that adults in families are willing and able to act in the best interest of their children, and that people earn enough money to support their families.

What would help families is better, affordable child care, higher minimum wage, and tougher child support law enforcement.

cwilbur's avatar

So everybody works 9–5, Monday-Friday, nobody works evenings or weekends?

It would be a disaster. No grocery stores or department stores open on weekends – people would have to take time off to shop. There would be more crime, because there would be no cops; more people dying unnecessarily, because there would be no paramedics; more property damage, because there would be no firefighters.

And there’s no reason to believe that parents would be any more involved than they are now, or that people would eat any better or get more exercise.

willbrawn's avatar

Ok people can work evenings on the monday – friday schedule.

googlybear's avatar

Well, this could work if the robbers, etc. have to only work 9–5 as well…and we’ll just tell the people who are dying to not do so between 5–9…that solves that little problem :-)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Or hospitals? What about hospitals? What about jobs for teenagers on the weekends?

alive's avatar

i dont know about “families,” but people would be happier. of course they would be some exceptions like hospitals, and police for example. and maybe not the 9 to 5 but rather a time gap where you have the option of like 7 am to 8 pm-ish.

basically you would have europe/almost everywhere. because americans are a rarity in that they work 40 hours per week and more, and all days are possible work days even weekends, and they only get 2 weeks vacation, and hardly any maternal leave, and even less paternal leave…

ya it would be nice.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I think it would be fair to say that even if everyone did work only Monday thru Friday, the intelligent answers already posted here clearly demonstrate that this schedule would be both problematic and seriously impractical on so many levels.

SeventhSense's avatar

Traffic in the morning would sure suck. I vote that we split it up-7–3, 8–4,9–5,10–6,11–7. Traffic would be a breeze.

cwilbur's avatar

@alive: you seriously think that people who work in retail and service industries and people who work in public safety should only work 7 am to 8 pm?

Think about it. Cops, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, hospital orderlies. The clerks at the 24-hour grocery stores. Pizza delivery people. Telephone operators; suicide hotline workers. Would people overall really be happier if these people were not available between 8 pm and 7 am?

All days are work days, and all hours are work hours, because there are things that need to be done at all hours. Even in Europe.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

When I was in Australia I noticed that after about 5pm everything was closed except for the bars and a few clubs and restaurants. I was told this is so everyone can go home and spend time with their families. Sounds like a good idea to me.

alive's avatar

@cwilbur are you just following me around to give me shit now?

maybe if you actually read my answer i would not need to clarify every statement i already made. i said that for certain jobs there needs to be exceptions, like hospitals and police etc….......

if you ever go pretty much anywhere outside of the united states (not just europe, but south america, and africa as well – and as naturalmineralwater just pointed out australia), you will see that you do not NEEEEED 24 hour grocery stores, you do not NEEEED pizza delivery.

and again: as for the NECESSARY 24 hour jobs those would be the exceptions….. yes you can have EXCEPTIONS is society. nothing is absolute.

shadling21's avatar

I don’t know about you, but when I need medicine, I sure am glad that the drug store down the road is open late. And when my furnace breaks down on the weekend, I’m glad that there is that one company I can call to come fix it. Sometimes, the cost is higher for these services.

Businesses naturally schedule their hours around their customers. They don’t stay open late unnecessarily, and if they do, then they tend to lose money.

If you’re talking about governing the hours that a business stays open, I’d argue against it. I’m as much for corporate social responsibility as the next person, but I don’t think that there is much to be gained in forcing people to live by a certain schedule.

I agree with @AlfredaPrufrock. There are other things that will solve the problems associated with this question.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I don’t wanna speak for @willbrawn but I’m sure we would take those emergency related things into account… some of you are just “nuking” the question.

laureth's avatar

Whoever we decide is an exception – cops, clerks, doctors, etc. – does that mean that their families aren’t as precious, or their happiness not as valuable? (If this is not true – that doctors and waitrons can still have happy, meaningful lives even working the “exception” hours, it seems to suggest that so can everyone else.)

People don’t all come in cookie-cutter shape. Neither do all families. They shouldn’t have to conform to some societal cookie-cutter mold, either.

laureth's avatar

Furthermore (there’s always a “furthermore” with me, isn’t there?), for every workplace that has three shifts – a factory, say – we’d have to build two more if we just want one shift to work anymore. That’s because the second and third shift folks use the same infrastructure, just displaced in time. For them all to keep a job, we’d not be able to stack the shifts anymore. Or, just fire them – but no one wants that.

That’s the problem with what I hear of Canadian socialized medicine, too. The government is happy to buy the big expensive equipment like CAT scan machines, but then it will only staff them for one shift. Lots more people would benefit if they could stack the shifts using that machine, treating people in the evenings and maybe even overnights, but no. Productivity is cut by 2/3, which is what would also happen if all (nonessential) folks only worked the 9-to-5 in our imaginary scenario. What a waste.

elijah's avatar

I understand the point you’re trying to make. I agree with the fact that parents dont get enough time with their kids. Unfortunately a lot of parents would rather use free time for themselves and wouldnt spend it with their kids anyway.
At most salons it is mandatory to work Saturdays. That means I can’t be with my kids. Who will take my daughter to the football games she cheerleads for? Her father won’t. Basically that leaves me sundays. All of the chain salons are open on Sunday. One place said it’s mandatory to work every other Sunday. That means out of 4 weekends a month I get to be home 2 Sundays. If you don’t agree to the schedule, you don’t get hired.
Now I understand that it is necessary for people to work all the time (reasons stated by other flutherers above). I do think employers need to be a little more flexible for people with families, especially single parent families.

dynamicduo's avatar

I would never want to live in some totalitarian place where people were forced to work only during certain hours, especially if the only reason it was done was “because it helps to make happy families”. It would be chaos, exactly as @cwilbur explains. Furthermore, who’s to say what type of happy family I have to have? I certainly have a happier family due to the ability to shop at many times.

Who would stock the shelves, and when would they work? In your scenario, the traditional “stock boy” would not be boys at all (they’re at school during that time, after all) so it’d be left to regular people or elderly people to stock shelves, all while the traffic of the store was way more due to everyone shopping during the only 8 hours it was open. This has secondary consequences which must be evaluated: the stock boys do not have a job, and thus do not have money to contribute to the economy. They stop buying CDs and video games. You can see where this continues.

Fast food restaurants would be completely screwed. In my experience at McDonald’s there was a solid, rarely changing team of full timers who worked 7–5 (overlapping shifts) M-F. All other times the restaurant was staffed by part timers, which means school kids. This includes Saturday morning (very often a hectic, nerve-wracking shift). In your scenario, the restaurant would never be open Saturday or Sunday, which were hands down the two most profitable days for my old restaurant. Again, these kids would not be employed, would not be learning the skills they do by doing a dinky part time job, would not be spending the money they make.

Oh, and what about freelancers? Do they have to abide by these draconian rules? Will they be arrested if they freelance instead of play with their child on Saturday?

I could go on, but I shan’t. The underlying point I’m getting here is that forcing such a viewpoint on people would have so many consequences, it would hands down be much worse than the system we have now.

SeventhSense's avatar

I see what you’re driving at and I guess that a society based on certain social democracies would be ideal. I don’t imagine that you’re proposing an imposed system correct?
We have some progressive companies which are offering child care on premises, the ability to choose schedules and things like allowing mothers time to breastfeed infants. Companies which are geared towards human beings and not necessarily ruled by a factory whistle. Yes, I think that the models proposed by business should be flexible. I’m all for that. The problem is that most companies seem to be driven only by the ability to increase earnings. So those who will sacrifice for that end will invariably stand out. It takes socially responsible and altruistic individuals to run such corporations. Anyone who has ever run a business knows that this is a huge nut to crack. Business and societal needs at times seem diametrically opposed. But increasingly progressive companies are using very different approaches with significant earnings. As models like this increase across the spectrum and organizations see the effecitiveness of this approach, no doubt change will occur. Nevertheless a model of business that has value production as an aim as opposed to wealth accumulation has to be implemented.

alive's avatar

i really think this question got twisted by all this “absolutism” talk. i took the question to be more along the lines of do we work too much? or, do we work so much that our families come second to our jobs?

no one is suggesting that there be curfews or enforced work hours. but it is perfectly possible for a nation to function on less than a 40 hour, work week (which for many people can turn into a 50, 60 or even 80 hour work week – like the ones doctors and nurses end up doing because of the shortage in the profession).

as for the “exceptions” that were mentioned there can still be shifts. not like one doctor or one police man would work a 24 hour shift, just a good ol 8 hour shift. even if it is midnight to 8. the graveyard shift would still carry the ‘perks’ it already has like higher wage and more time off than the day shift.

i think that willbrawn’s question was a good question and like naturalmineralwater said, “some of you are just nuking the question.”

how would working less benefit us as a nation?

cwilbur's avatar

@alive: I’m not following you around, but answering questions I have an interest in. If you say something stupid or poorly thought out, I’m going to respond to it. If you don’t like that, I recommend not making a habit of saying stupid things.

You’re proposing that forbidding people to work except between certain hours would make families stronger. I don’t see that happening at all; families are strong, or dysfunctional, independently of how many hours the parents work. Further, it’s not for you to say how many hours other people choose to work; if they want to work 50, 60, or 80 hours, that’s their business, not yours.

Beyond that, you’re making the completely unwarranted assumption that if someone worked less than 40 hours, that he or she would automatically spend his or her extra free time only doing wholesome things that you approve of. This is not the case; the people who are already doing wholesome things will do more of them, but they already have strong families. The people who have dysfunctional families will just get more dysfunctional, because the problem is not time.

Dysfunctional families are the result of broken people and screwed up priorities, not an insufficiency of free time. Adding more free time will only make it worse.

And the question just has so many logical holes in it, and expectations that are clearly contrary to human nature; pointing them out may be “nuking the question,” but if so, it deserves it.

loser's avatar

I wouldn’t want to do that. The laundryroom is a madhouse on weekends and I’d never get my laundry done.
Plus, somebody’s gotta watch the dogs at work over the weekend! We couldn’t have them just running amuck and helping themelves to all the food!!!

laureth's avatar

Certain businesses are starting to be more flexible for people with families. But then, single people (and marrieds without kids) see that, and think it’s discrimination too, because coworkers get the day off to see Little Billy’s school play, but Single Person always has to cover.

You can’t please all the people.

cdwccrn's avatar

What about the critically I’ll? They don’t suddenly get well at 5pm on Friday.
Fires? They don’t care what day it is; neither do criminals.

cwilbur's avatar

@laureth: This is why I’m in favor of generous vacation and personal time for all employees—20+ days a year. People with kids who have to take time off of work to deal with kid things—either positive or negative—can take their personal time and do that, while those of us who are childless by choice can get an extra few days of vacation. If you have generous vacation time, this means that the childless people get 4 weeks of vacation, while the parents get 2 solid weeks of vacation and 10 days they can take here and there as their family demands. If you only have 10 days a year, though, it gets used up by planned vacations—and then the parents ask for special treatment because of their responsibilities, and the childless people resent it.

(For the record—I don’t think that working long hours is inherently good or inherently bad. There is nothing more wonderful than a job you love so much that you want to spend 80 hours a week at it, especially if it’s a lucrative job. And if your family is dysfunctional, spending 80 hours a week at work is as likely to be an effect as a cause.)

I’m also a fan of flextime. My employer has a culture where the important things are that the work gets done and that there is good communication. If those things are happening, you can come in when you want, work from home when it’s easier, and the like. This sort of thing is very convenient for families, for obvious reasons—and it’s also good for morale and convenient for childless employees too. (Now, it’s more flexible in some departments than in others—software development is very flexible, but customer support, which answers the phones, is less flexible, mostly for obvious reasons.)

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I’m still unsure as to why some people are trying to inject realism into a totally hypothetical question. Were it possible… (notice the question..“everyone in the USA was able ”)... but nevermind that…

I don’t think workload alone is enough to destroy a family so were we ABLE to work only Monday-Friday I think you would see varied results. Some would use their new time wisely.. spend it with family, strengthen relationships with friends, etc.. but others would use the time for themselves. If you care about your relationships.. chances are you find time to strengthen them regardless of your work schedule.. and if you are the… OTHER .. type of person..then when given an inch you’ll attempt a mile.. iykwim…

However, I do think that to some extent we are spoiled by the constant availability of certain services. There’s something deep down inside me that cringes when someone whines that it has been one whole hour that their internet has been out… I’m thinkin:” ok… so go outside… get off your ass and do something with your life”.. but perhaps that’s just me..

alive's avatar

i wish i could give you a few more lurves naturalmineralwater!

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@alive just keep me in mind for next time xD

dynamicduo's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater, the reason we are injecting reality is because it is foolish to not do so. You can’t just pretend that everyone working Monday-Friday would have no consequences for things like museums, stocking shelves, fixing cars, box office attendance (no more opening weekends! Heck, the movies budgets will be slashed, thus leading to crappier movies, since Hollywood won’t make back its money from the box office), etc. Or, I guess you can, but then what’s the point in discussing the question if we’re just making the question up as we go along?

@willbrawn has made some logical assumptions based on his question (his theory is that families will be more together if no one worked on the weekends, he also has more theories about the effect on crime, etc). We must thus use logic to proof or disprove his assumptions. We cannot just abandon logic and give an answer pulled from the sky, what’s the value in that?

Here, let’s compare and contrast a simple example. @willbrawn questions if crime will be lowered. The logical answer is “no, crime would increase as police would not be working the weekends, thus criminals would have weekend steal-fests and/or steal during the night on weekdays”. This is based on the reality that criminals are apt to do more crimes if police are not around (as well, look at looting after big events to see how regular Joe can become a criminal if the situation is right). Here’s an answer pulled from the sky with no reason or reality: “yes, crime would decrease because criminals are people who just aren’t loved, so being with their families will make them not steal.” Do you see the difference between the two answers? It is logic and reality that changes them completely. This is why we inject reality into the question, to provide more factual and actual answers instead of providing speculation.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I suppose there are at least two types of people: One type will get asked “What is the meaning of life?” and respond with the dictionary definition. The other type (in response to the same question) will surmise that there is something more than a just-the-facts-ma’am answer to the question.

Diversity ftw.

cwilbur's avatar

The thing is, once you’ve made one complete pie-in-the-sky assumption, nothing tethers the question to reality any longer.

So our assumption is that nothing ever happens outside willbrawn’s approved working hours. No fires; no deaths; no crimes. Or—complete indifference to human suffering, so that if someone has a heart attack at 5:15 pm or on a weekend, people will just ignore him until the start of the working day.

But this is so far removed from reality—disasters won’t wait until 9–5 during working hours, and people will be more likely to commit crime if there’s no police presence—that it’s pure fantasy. This is like asking, “If people somehow grew wings, could we fly to Rio de Janeiro?” You can’t answer that with arguments from physics and biology, because the question itself defies physics and biology.

So we’re approaching the question as logically as we can, based on the assumptions that underlie it. For instance, the assumption that families will be stronger if people work fewer hours. Well, that’s something we can measure. Look at families now that work less—families that are supported by welfare or disability payments, for instance, where neither parent works. If @willbrawn‘s theory is correct, these people should have incredibly strong families, because they can spend all their time together. But that’s not what we see: I’d bet that the level of dysfunction is at least as high among welfare recipients as it is among the population as a whole.

And in the end, the question is so hypothetical that you can really make up any answer you like, and people do—especially if it can be tinged with their own personal wingnuttery. Of course we could fly to Rio de Janeiro, because that’s where all the beautiful people are! Of course we couldn’t fly to Rio de Janeiro, because we all have legs, and none of us actually walk all the way there.

alive's avatar

the question was what IF everyone was ABLE to…

a very direct translation of that is WHAT IF (in a perfect world) no one HAD to work beyond the “9 to 5”


NOT can the world as we know it (that would be the real world that everyone is so worried about the hospitals and pizza delivery) function if people stopped working.

people ask hypothetical questions on Fluther allllll the time! how is this any different?

dynamicduo's avatar

@alive, WHY ARE you freaking OUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?? The asker never defined the question as being hypothetical at all, in fact they came back to clarify a point for the analysis, so I have no clue where you’re getting the concept that this is a hypothetical question from. Furthermore, it’s not even your question, so I will kindly leave it to @willbrawn to define what he wanted to hear, not to you.

But here, I’ll humour you. Here’s your fun happy hypothetical answer. If everyone worked 9–5, all of the world’s diseases would magically disappear, the rain forest would grow back to twice its size (no need to worry, all the indigenous people would become famous on Opera for pan fluting), and sparkle farting unicorns would fly from the sky to make everyone happy. Oh, and everyone’s family would magically become together, no one would ever abuse any drug or narcotic, and everyone would live happily ever after.

cwilbur's avatar

@alive: Once you get to the “in a perfect world,” which is necessary for the premise of the question to not be nonsense, all bets are off. It’s a perfect world, so families are stronger, puppies are cuter, everyone is of above average intelligence, there is no more crime, divorce, or death, and we could all flap our arms six times and land in Rio de Janeiro.

But I don’t think there would be sparkle farting unicorns. Everyone knows unicorns are mythical.

alive's avatar

@dynamicduo i’m “freaking out” because cwilbur is being a dick. i actually have no problem with people calling someone out on a badly phrased question with logical errors, but there is no reason to be a dick and act like you know everything.

from my understanding fluther is to tell people what YOU (personally) think, not to tell them HOW to think.

there is not reason to JUMP on people’s questions or answers, all that does is start a fight, not a conversation… and if you are here to fight with people (rather than discuss) i think you missed the point of fluther… and if you are thinking “oh alive just can’t take the heat” / “i’m not being confrontational, i’m being provocative” maybe you should re-think about how you address people that you don’t know.

(and i would like to point out that in my original answer i did say that it would not be some exceptions like hospitals, and police for example… because this yes this is the real world.)

cwilbur's avatar

@alive: in other words, you’re freaking out because I disagree with you, and because I’ve disagreed with you in one other thread. If you can’t handle being disagreed with, this is probably not the website for you.

alive's avatar

i’m sorry you must not have read my answer (again).

dynamicduo's avatar

@alive – Where exactly do you see @cwilbur as being a dick? Because I certainly do not see any of his comments as being dicklike. I see them as discussing the situation at hand. In fact it is you that starts this derail by accusing @cwilbur of “following you around to give you shit” when all he did was respond to your comment with logic. Furthermore, nowhere did he tell someone how to think, this is just another thing you’ve painted on his image in your mind, along with the thoughts that he’s following you around purposely.

I am not here to fight people, but it certainly seems that you are based on your actions of, well, starting a fight! It seems you are the one that doesn’t want to discuss the issue at hand, as when confronted with a different opinion, you take it personally. Many of your answers, such as the one directly above mine now, are the ones that are dicklike and not adding to the conversation.

Fluther is not only about telling your opinion. Sometimes it’s about telling facts. This question, for instance, is one where facts are beneficial. Fluther is also a place where we have civil discussions, not accusing other users of following someone around and being dicks, so perhaps it is you who has missed the point of Fluther.

YARNLADY's avatar

Reading through the comments, I am glad I came in late. You are apparently asking how it would be possible to allow parents spend more time with their children.

The way you asked it, I was worried about how would we go to the hospital when we had an emergency, or how our questions about the local cable service would be answered on weekends. It would be a disaster if the electrical repair people couldn’t work on the weekends. Whew!

My son works the noon to nine shift, Tuesday thru Saturday he has just as much time for his family as any Monday – Fri person, and they love it. Perhaps you have had a problem with an “off” hours worker, but it is not the timing that interfers with good parenting. Even a parent who is forced to work two jobs to make ends meet can provide proper parenting.

giltesque's avatar

Coming from my blue collar family I appreciate your question and what I think it was getting at. I did not read all replies though. My short answer is “They could work those hours if they would get the proper education and have the freedoms afforded to people that invest in securing quality of life they want for a family. I vowed never to be in that retail hell hole rat race chasing the next promotion working all holidays missing much family time and struggling to stay afloat. There are about 4 offshoot questions I need to ask now but must take this a call.

CMaz's avatar

How about if the question was, what if everyone in the USA had a job?

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I think the solution to the problem in America…is to allow people to have more vacation time (like in Europe—one month plus) and to give more people the choice of working for more hours on four days so they can have one day off during the week. I think this would help people stay “sane” and rested enough…so they don’t arm themselves and literally go ballistic in a mall or other public place.

It’s not about working M-F….it’s about understanding that people need time to de-stress and give them time to do that . The world that we live in is not the same world that even our parents lived in…we operate on overload from the media, information, communication, electromagnetics, and having to commute to work longer hours.

Yes, I know….idealism. <sigh>

Nullo's avatar

It would take some adjustment, but I can tell you that the service industry workers would enjoy it. I know that I’d like to be able to have more days off with people. As it is, I’ll be off on a Wednesday, and everybody else would be off on Saturday. Makes it tough.
Italy does something like this, only their work week runs Monday through Saturday. They shut down almost completely on Sunday.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther