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Working Five to Nine: How we can deliver work–life integration

Working Five to Nine: How we can deliver work–life integration

Paul Bickley’s report examining how we can achieve greater ‘work–life integration’ by paying attention to the subjective dimension of work. 25/03/2024

About the report

We have fallen out of love with work. Rates of economic activity remain stubbornly high in the UK, while in other countries they have reverted to pre–pandemic downward trends. While this is being driven by ill health, our values around work have also shifted. Recent World Values Survey data show that the UK public are the least likely of 24 countries to say that work is very/rather important in their life (73% in the UK, compared to 96% in Italy, 94% in France, or 80% in the United States). Millennials in particular have shifted in their attitudes: in 2009, 41% felt that work should always come first. By 2022, this had fallen to 14%.

This report argues that, to address this, we need to pay attention to what Catholic Social Teaching calls “the subjective dimension” of work – that whatever else we say about it, we’re always talking about something people do. Work should contribute to human flourishing and development at the individual and corporate levels. We also need to recognise a growing appetite for greater freedom to fulfil what, from a Christian perspective, are also kinds of work, albeit unpaid. These can be as varied as caring responsibilities, civil and political actions, and personal development and education.

This is not a call for less employment, but to think about how we can ease the conflict between the goods of employment and the goods of all the unpaid work we do. In our public conversation, policy, and practice, we prioritise the former – but how can we give more space to the latter? We argue for the expansion and enforcement of basic worker rights, further use of four–day weeks, and maintaining and extending the used of thoughtful hybrid working.

You can read the full report here.

Learn more about our Work Shift series

Working Five to Nine is the second report in Theos’ 2024 Work Shift series, exploring how a renewed focus on the relational elements of work could improve the labour market. 

You can read about the Work Shift series here.

You can read the first report in the series, The Ties That Bind by Tim Thorlby, here.

You can read Paul Bickley’s 2021 report on humanising the labour market here.

Cover Image by A3pfamily on Shutterstock

Paul Bickley

Paul Bickley

Paul is Head of Political Engagement at Theos. His background is in Parliament and public affairs, and he holds an MLitt from the University of St Andrews’ School of Divinity.

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