Blaise Tapp: Should over-40s stick to three-day week?

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It won’t surprise anyone out there to learn that I am somebody who confuses very easily. I have never completed a crossword, sudoku makes as much sense to me as the offside rule does to my football-loathing mother and I still haven’t a clue who shot JR Ewing.

We are told that this a male default position and that (the vast majority of blokes switch off whenever they encounter issues which don’t take their fancy, therefore creating the illusion of confusion.

It may well be the case that our concentration levels are somewhat selective, particularly when tasks such as choosing curtains and dressing the children are concerned, but the past week has thrown me into the deepest levels of confusion that I have encountered since discovering that Colonel Sanders doesn’t actually fry the chicken himself. It has been a week when, not only have we lost icons from my childhood such as Victoria Wood and the peerless Prince, but one which has left me perilously close to the workplace knacker’s yard.

Only a £200 pair of sunglasses away from a mid-life crisis, I was left cratching my and pondering the meaning of life after a study suggested over-40s were much more effective in the office if they stuck to a three day week.

Confused because, little more than six months away from the big 4-0, I like most of my peers, have resigned myself to another 30 years at my desk and, until the publication of this most worrying of studies, I was looking forward to climbing a few more rungs of the ladder.

This headline figure was widely reported and the fear is that it will stick in the mind of bean counters and ruthless wealth creators of the future and that employees a long way off their sell-by date will be unfairly downgraded and left on the shelf for the time it takes for a forest of hair to grow in my ear canal and for me to develop a penchant for pear drops

Of course, anyone who has read the report will see that it is far from watertight and that it shows the real problems seem to occur when the subjects, who were all aged 40 or above, worked more than 35 hours a week – which is bog standard for many industries in the modern age. Rather than implying that the performances of those above a certain age begin to decay, these findings should serve as a warning to bosses that a long hours culture and benefiting from unpaid overtime is counter productive.

Older workers, a group to which I clearly now belong, have their value – after all it is always handy to have people in the office who remember who Rod, Jane and Freddy were.

For a moment, I felt, for the first time in my life, that the odds were beginning to stack up against me and that the work of Australian academics would mean that any ambition I had left would be forever unfulfilled. That feeling of self pity didn’t last long, as when has anyone really taken the land of Neighbours and insipid lager seriously? I may no longer be feeling sorry for myself but it would be long before I’m plunged back into a state of confusion.

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