I vowed I would use Christmas to rest, read books and have proper chats with my sons. It didn’t exactly go to plan

Back at work (which for me, as for many, means moving the rejected Quality Street off the kitchen table), I was halted by a Twitter post I spotted while flicking between tabs. “Productivity culture is a scam,” it read. It is a message that has gathered momentum over the past year of enforced inactivity, furlough, kurzarbeit (if you are in Germany) and other expedients, the effects of which have been to shift work from front and centre, giving some of us space to wonder whether it is all it is cracked up to be.

We are a world away from the 15-hour week Keynes predicted, but employers are scrambling to devise new working models, individuals are evaluating their commitment to uncertain and unreasonably demanding career trajectories and the campaign for a safer, saner four-day week is gaining traction. When we are forced into existential questioning, the worth of work is put under the microscope: the old deathbed chestnut feels less abstract.

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