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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Essay 44 (Save energy by shorter workweeks)


Research has shown that spending much less time in office can reduce the use of energy (for example, electricity, gas).  Thus some companies close for some days a week.  Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

Inspired by the realisation that energy consumption can be checked by reducing the time spent by employees in offices, many companies have adopted strategies like reducing the number of days in a workweek.  However, some people feel that such a plan can have a negative impact on the performance of businesses and the welfare of employees.

On the one hand, there would be a substantial reduction in office expenses in terms of electricity consumption, water usage and fuel costs.  Moreover, with the reduced workweek and longer leisure time it is likely that the productivity of employees would improve, compensating for the hours lost.  For example, the number of days in a workweek has been reduced from six to five in many government offices in India.  While it has substantially cut down energy costs in terms of lighting and running of office machinery, the work completed in a week has not been seriously affected.  Similarly, the commuting of employees and movement of office vehicles have been reduced, resulting in substantial fuel savings.

On the other hand, critics believe that shortened workweek can affect work output and reduce the earning capacity of employees.  This would mean that losing a considerable number of man-hours at work would affect the performance of companies.  Moreover, the loss of wages due to fewer hours can discourage workers.

After considering both views, from a broader perspective, the substantial energy saving achieved by modern companies should be given greater prominence.  Moreover, the drawbacks can be minimized by introducing alternative methods like telecommuting, where employees do not come to office, but work from home using modern telecommunication systems.

In short, although there are minor disadvantages to this system, shorter workweeks can have greater benefits to individuals and society by saving the depleting energy resources of the world.

(289 words)

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