How long before there is really no difference between weekday and weekend? Would it be a problem if we didn’t have a formal weekend any more?
I’m not sure. I’m not saying I want less leisure time — far from it. But in our modern, 24×7 society does it really make sense for most of the country to be off for the same two days each week?
Take an extreme example: hospitals. Some recent research showed that death rates in hospitals leap 10% at weekends when staffing numbers are lower. Does it really make sense that we let more people die because convention says that we all work to a synchronised five days on, two days off?
How about shops? Food shopping in supermarkets is a joy outside of the normal hours — at least in efficiency terms. But come the weekend the experience is hideous. Sundays are even worse than Saturdays, as everyone tries to squeeze in between 11 and 4. If we all had different rest days, it would be a lot more pleasant. It would also free up land, as the car parks could be smaller if the peak demand was lower.
Of course there are problems: without a formalised weekend some employers would likely take (even greater) advantage of employees. Big social occasions might be harder to schedule, and the leisure and retail industries would need to be completely reshaped. Education would have to remain on some sort of fixed calendar, and I’m sure there are many more issues I haven’t considered.
Even if we don’t make a conscious policy choice to do away with the weekend, it is happening. Working hours are extended but more flexible for people like me: I may work during the weekend but I might also take days off (as I have today) to look after sick kids or spend time with friends and family. Or just muck around (if only). As long as I meet my commitments, what does it matter when I do the work?
Increasingly I think my style of employment will become more common (a topic for another day), and when it does, we may see the concept of the weekend become a thing of the past.