Who does really get to take a nap after lunch in Spain? It’s certainly not a habit, except for retired people or those on holidays. The average Spaniard eats a sandwich in front of the computer. However, because of an impractical, dislocated working day with a (never real) two-hour lunch break, he cannot leave the office until 9.
This irrational scheme affects the whole society: people cannot pick up their kids from school, are unable to run errands after work, they cannot cultivate their hobbies… And of course has a direct impact on productivity. Shops close for 2 hours during daytime, the country is kind of paralyzed between 2 and 5pm. Also, people are more tired and they have no incentive to finish their work earlier since they cannot go home anyway.
Studies suggest Spaniards sleep an hour less than the rest of Europe. Most of them like going out and socialize, indeed, but that’s a personal choice that has nothing to do with working schedules.
To solve this problem, a parliamentary commission voted on Thursday to put the clock back an hour. That is, committing to London time. In their report Spanish lawmakers suggested it would save energy, increase productivity and cut Spaniards some slack.
The Spanish time dates back to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain until 1975. During World War II, many countries switched to Central Time to better coordinate their actions on the battlefield. When the conflict ended, they most switched back. Spain notwithstanding kept Central time out of Franco’s feelings for Hitler.
It was a political decision, as it is today that China has physically spans five time zones, yet runs entirely on Beijing time, as the Washington Post recalls. Mao Zedong wanted the country to be unified as Franco stood for Hitler in this time zone issue.
Because of the economic crisis, Spain has been enduring adjustments, budget cuts and a crippling austerity for months. People are seeing their wages plummet and unemployment rate is 26 per cent. Those with a job don’t feel safe to complain about working long hours. A change of framework would increase productivity for businesses as well as guaranteeing healthy, rational conditions for workers.
*Image by U.S. Navy via The Washington Post.