Dec 17, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. One more week to get those presents.

Situational awareness: The Dow dropped more than 500 points today and is on pace for its worst December in 80 years, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.

1 big thing: The movement against the 9 to 5

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

It's no secret Americans work their tails off, but there's a growing movement for work arrangements that would have made our grandparents blanch.

The big picture: The days of showing up at the office five mornings a week are coming to an end, and companies and workers are rushing to adapt while remaining productive.

  • "A recent survey ... found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their tasks in five hours a day if they did not have interruptions, but many are exceeding 40 hours a week anyway — with the United States leading the way," Reuters reports.

Three ways people are backing away from the 9 to 5 grind:

  1. Four-day work weeks
  2. Remote work, even on an unlimited basis
  3. Flex time

Between the lines: None of these options are really new, but what's driving them is a mix of cultural need and technological progress, including:

  • Young parents who want to put in time with kids, especially the women who disproportionately bear the career costs of having kids.
  • Young workers who want to work where they choose, from wherever they want, without exposing themselves to the risks of the gig economy.
  • Older workers looking to reduce burnout: "In New Zealand, insurance company Perpetual Guardian reported a fall in stress and a jump in staff engagement after it tested a 32-hour week earlier this year," Reuters adds.

The other side: "There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week," Elon Musk tweeted in November.

  • Musk to "Axios on HBO," just days before the tweet: "No one should put this many hours into your work. This is not recommended for anyone."

It's also the case that some of these experiments fade away. IBM, which helped pioneer remote work, is among the companies that have backed away in search of putting employees together in offices.

The bottom line: Don't expect the long hours and hard work to go away anytime soon. Do expect, however, that talented workers will keep coming up with new ways to work, including these.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the Welsh Guards stand with women dressed as characters from Disney films as they arrive for an event at 10 Downing Street in central London.

2. What you missed
  1. Sweeping new Russia reports: Two outside research groups used data obtained from Silicon Valley giants by the Senate Intelligence Committee to paint a sweeping picture of Russia’s online disinformation efforts. Go deeper.
  2. The NAACP has returned a donation from Facebook and called for a daylong boycott of the social network Tuesday following revelations of how its platform was used to manipulate black voters in the 2016 presidential election. Go deeper.
  3. Two of Michael Flynn's former business associates were charged with illegally lobbying for the extradition of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Go deeper.
  4. Airbnb will hold off on implementing its new policy of boycotting Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Go deeper.
  5. Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to work to legalize recreational marijuana next year in New York. Go deeper.
3. Pick your poison
  1. A Missouri man will have to repeatedly watch "Bambi" after he was caught illegally poaching hundreds of deer and wasting the meat.
  2. Witches are mad at President Trump for using the phrase "witch hunt" to describe the Mueller investigation.
Mike Allen