What Leonardo da Vinci can teach us about the six hour working day

The latest idea to grip the sometimes limited imagination of the world’s workplace chatterers is that of the six hour working day. This has its roots in a Swedish experiment designed to limit the hours people work in an attempt to improve their work-life balance and possibly even increase their productivity. These are always commendable goals and you can see the logic. We know people find it increasingly hard to switch off, we know that this is bad for them and we know that long hours don’t necessarily equate to greater productivity. The problem is that the very idea of a six hour day is rooted in the same command and control thinking routinely derided by the very people pushing for a new era of fixed hours. Indeed, you could achieve a six hour day simply by telling people to work 9 to 5 and remember to take their full lunch hour and a couple of proper breaks. The whole idea is deeply conservative, dressed up in radical clothing.