Around the world, economies are debating the idea of a four-day work week.

Portugal recently implemented the measure to some degree, and many citizens are already praising the benefits for leisure time, quality of life and mental health. Some companies in the Dominican Republic have also committed to a voluntary pilot program to test the pros and cons of the idea.

Narayana Murthy, on the contrary, is looking at things very differently.

The billionaire founder of Infosys — and one of India’s richest entrepreneurs — made headlines late last year when he urged employees to devote 70 hours of their time a week to their employer as a patriotic duty to the nation.

“Our young people should say. ‘this is my country, I want to work 70 hours a week,'” said Murthy on a podcast, as reported by the BBC. “India’s labor productivity is one of the lowest in the world. Unless we improve our labor productivity … we will not be able to compete with those countries that have made tremendous progress.”

Despite his patriotic intentions, many are skeptical — and others outright hostile — to this point of view.

According to OECD data, working longer hours does not translate into higher productivity. In fact, often the opposite is true, as is illustrated by Germans, who only work an average of 1,341 hours per year but have very high productivity. This puts Germany as the least-working nation, in terms of hours, and it is followed by Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden as the countries that work the least.

“Companies that implement work/life balance policies benefit from higher retention of current employees, better recruitment, lower absenteeism rates and higher productivity,” stated the International Labor Organization (ILO) in a report published in 2022 where 45 companies were consulted for a study in the US.

According to the ILO report, India worked an average of more than 2,000 hours per year before the pandemic, far more than the United States, Brazil and especially Germany. This means that India is already working much, much more — so adding even more hours to the mix may not be the solution that Murphy thinks it is.

“[There are] 24 hours per day (as far as I know),” wrote cardiologist Dr. Deepak Krishnamurthy on his X account in a post that exemplified the backlash to Murthy’s comments. “If you work 6 days a week – 12h per day. Remaining 12h. 8 hours sleep. 4 hours remain. In a city like Bengaluru. 2 hours on road. 2 hours remain – Brush, poop, bathe, eat. No time to socialise. No time to talk to family. No time to exercise. No time for recreation. Not to mention companies expect people to answer emails and calls after work hours also. Then wonder why young people are getting #Heartattacks?!”

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