Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Fulfilment

All Work And No Play... [2]

Let’s hear it for The Holidays.  As year follows year, European countries can seem more and more work-averse. Germans increasingly start their weekends at lunch-time on Friday. Paris and Brussels close down for a whole month in August, as the French and Belgians take their nationally synchronized summer holidays. Traditionally upstanding Protestant countries are turning positively otiose. Their reputation for hard work is going the way of history, and they don’t seem unduly fussed about the fact. Indeed, many people would now agree that much of what they do in the name of work is probably a waste of time.

Simultaneously, more Europeans have been saying they would like to cut down on their commitment to the job, even if it means a drop in earnings, in order to have more time to themselves. There has been an increase in survey respondents who say they want to take time to really appreciate things in life. The time/money equation is being re-calculated, this time in favor of time.

How much time off are we actually getting, anyway? A multi-country check by The Economist showed that, when statutory holiday allowances and public holidays are added together, the result is surprisingly variable. The Austrians lead the chart, enjoying a positively decadent forty days a year, with their German neighbors only three days behind them. The French, Italians and Spanish all get more than the UK’s rather parsimonious 30 days.  The British lack of free time is more due to the comparatively short ration of UK public holidays, compared with Catholic countries.

Americans often claim to be the hardest workers in the West. Certainly their meager two weeks of statutory annual holiday seems pretty thin.  A third week is in some cases only awarded with five years’ service.  However, before Europeans start sympathizing too much with their trans-Atlantic cousins, note that Americans know a thing or two about evening up the score. They have things called Conventions, which are a subtle way of getting time off without actually taking official holidays.

Around two in three members of the US work-force get to participate annually in trade conventions organized by their companies or trade associations, mostly in relaxing locations’ like Las Vegas, or even the Caribbean. You can legitimately call it “work”, and even put a lot of it on expenses. A modest amount of training or real work activity like “networking with your peers” is certainly expected. Nonetheless, half the time tends to be passed on the beach, golf-course or skeet-shooting range. All in all, even workaholic America has ways of quietly slackening the pressure of the daily grind.

Pi has seen the future, and it doesn’t work nearly as hard as it used to.

Zone: Self-Fulfilment Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Leisure