'Let's all work a three-day week,' says the world's richest man

At a conference this weekend, Mexican mobile magnate Carlos Slim said we need to 'radically overhaul' our working lives, working shorter weeks but for a longer time.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 21 Jul 2014

You don't get to be the world's richest man (as of last week - he's been vying for the title with Bill Gates for about 12 years now) without sacrificing blood, sweat and tears. Or do you? At a conference in Paraguay this weekend, mobile magnate Carlos Slim said there needs to be a 'radical overhaul' of people's working lives.

According to Slim (who lists 'thinking' among his favourite hobbies - plenty of time for it when you're sitting on an effective monopoly of both mobile and landlines in your home country...), we should all be working three days a week. Unfortunately, though, he adds, that means we'll have to work for longer.

'People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week – perhaps 11 hours a day,' he said, according to Paraguay.com.

'With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax for quality of life. Having four [free] days would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.'

To be fair, Slim is living his dream: at 74, be shows no signs of slowing down. No word on how many days a week he works, but he’s testing his theory on his own workers: employees at Telmex in Mexico become eligible for retirement at 50 if they've been working there since their teens. But under new rules, they can stay on, on full pay but working four days a week, if they want to.

As MT usually points out when someone suggests this sort of thing, while the idea of working three days a week is marvellous to most of us, economically speaking it would be problematic. Even if we were all on 11 hour days, chances are productivity would begin to tail off somewhere around hour nine. Still: a multi-billionaire can dream…

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime