Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Work is good for you, right?

It makes you feel useful and productive. 

It boosts your self-esteem and your ability to buy very nice shoes.

Is it possible, though, that there's a certain number of hours you should work in order to maximize your wellbeing?

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Salford University thought they'd find out.

They examined 70,000 UK residents and their feelings and work habits between 2009 and 2018.

They focused on those who had either been unemployed or were stay-at-home parents and had then gone into paid employment.

What they discovered must have startled them. 

They concluded, you see, that eight hours' work a week lowered mental health problems the most. By around 30 percent.

Any more hours worked, the positive effect didn't increase.

Indeed, the researchers put it like this: 

We know unemployment is often detrimental to people's wellbeing, negatively affecting identity, status, time use, and sense of collective purpose. We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment -- and it's not that much at all.

Many will find this pulsating, given the world's tendency to replace humans with robots and political candidates such as Andrew Yang suggesting a universal basic income.

This study's first author, Dr Daiga Kamerāde, offered a radical suggestion for the future: 

If there is not enough for everybody who wants to work full-time, we will have to rethink current norms. This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks.

There's something eminently reasonable about this, even if it may be hard to contemplate what one would do with the remaining four days in the working week.

Still, there was an interesting kink to this research.

It was men who, given just 8 hours of paid work a week, self-reported a 30 percent increase in life satisfaction.

Women needed 20 hours of work to report the same effects.

Essentially, though, these researchers are suggesting that a micro-dose of work is quite enough to make us feel good. They even posit the concept of a five-day weekend, which has a truly blissful ring to it.

Of course, management skills would have to change with such an arrangement. 

Being able to utilize more people for shorter periods of time would take some mental juggling.

But we have to begin conceiving that the world will soon be a very different place, with very different priorities. Survival, for example.

Perhaps now would be a good time to start preparing for what is to come.

Why don't you take some time off to think about it?

Published on: Jun 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.