Isaac Fitzgerald works hard at not doing much work, says Sirin Kale in The Guardian. The New Yorker was once a frantic books editor but has deliberately halved his hours and salary since the pandemic began. He loves it: he enjoys a gentle three-hour stroll every day and revels in the work he does do. Likewise software engineer Gavin (not his real name), a proud “deadbeat” who works from home and secretly clocks off at 11.30am. Samuel Binstead, a “recovered workaholic” from Sheffield, opens his café at 10am – and shuts up shop at 1pm.
All three are “time millionaires”, measuring their worth in “the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure”, not financial gain. “I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts,” says writer Nilanjana Roy, who coined the term “time millionaires” in 2016. It seems many of us agree: a third of Brits want to keep working from home, according to the ONS, and half of those out of work are not even looking for a job.
Burnt-out Brits are particularly time-impoverished. We work the longest hours in Europe, equivalent to an extra two and a half weeks of overtime a year. Enforced downtime during the pandemic caused many to reassess. But human nature is returning. One “time millionaire” got on a 7am train last week, and his fellow passengers were all on laptops or reading paperwork. All he could think was: “You are not in the office yet, and you’re already trying to get a head start on work.”