The 24 Hour Society.
A world-wide phenomenon which promises radical change. There is much more to it than all-night shopping at supermarkets.
By Leon Kreitzman
Leon Kreitzman is one of the current seers on time and our time-stressed society. This book is full of challenging thoughts but best of all is the way he reconciles globalisation with that last great frontier of night…there is no night except where you are. Suddenly you can regain charge by being a 24 hour person. The great thing about the book is it can help us avoid time-stress. And the implications on town planning and marketing are riveting. If getting attention is hard all day maybe it could be easier at night to a smaller but suggestible market in Asda.
Is time under our own control at last?
“If there are no limits to the beginning and the end of the day, then we no longer have to squeeze things in. We create more space which means we don’t feel guilty about taking time to exercise or have a chat with friends.” (C. Usher, The Guardian.) Yet many people feel there is a scarcity of time and huge pressure (especially young working mothers.)
We work harder now
Stone-Age man worked 15 hours a week. We now work 15 hours a day.
Night used to be a frontier – no longer
“Customers want what they want when, where and at a price they dictate”. When means 24 hours a day – banks, office shops like Kinko, supermarkets, clubs, bars, libraries (BathUniversity), MRI scans. Sunday also used to be a frontier – long gone (except in parts of Scotland.)
The 24 hour site
Middlebrook, Bolton is a template based around leisure first not retail, although retail has followed. “The iconic Reebok Stadium lies at its heart and the equally impressive Bolton Spirit of Sport sculpture now lies at the principal entrance to the development.” Says the website and they’re right to be proud.
Who are the late night supermarket shoppers and why?
- Wheelchair users
- Young mothers with babies
- Singles (some supermarkets arrange singles nights).
- Young working Mums or Dads
Women at work changes needs
1971 45% women 25-34 at work; 2008 73% – over 50% of workforce in most major UK cities (not London) are women. Women are becoming the key in purchasing power and workplace voice.
Stress grows with choice and time pressure
Peace of mind declining – 75%. Yet life is easier – in 1850 washday for most women was the equivalent of doing a 5 mile breast stroke.
“As a society we are anxious, insecure, socially divided and stressed out A large proportion of the British population believe they are overworked and that their life is out of control.”
Kiddies football has changed from a casual hour’s kickabout to a three hour saga with the right kit, proper teams, CRB checked referees, showers afterwards, strategy debriefs etc. There is no happening in this life just diarised events.
Globalisation means you can deal on anything
Corporations have been actively shopping around to pay lower wages, less NHI and benefits tax, less tax, lower severance payments, higher grants and aid etc. But this may be about to change as Asian wage levels escalate. And, interestingly, the Opera Houses of the world have agreed never to gazump on artist’s fees.
Tourists are the best consumers
When tourism overtook oil as No.1 global industry it changed the way we looked at time. As tourists we want a good time not a 9-5 time. In the UK this £40 billion industry is much more important than banking.
The offices of the future
We have BA at Waterside, Heathrow and Google’s HQ in Zurich where you have everything from gyms to crèches to doctors to masseuses to shopping to great healthy food through the day and night.
Why retail is so important
“Today you’re unhappy? Can’t figure it out? What’s the salvation? Go shopping.” (Arthur Miller, “The Price”). Our needs have become bigger- our wants – and shopping has become a hobby. More people visit the shopping malls ofBritain than visit theVatican. We actually like all the stuff and concepts like downshifting are whistles in the wind. We have learned to become consumers and love marketing.
Living with waste
The key to modern marketing is our willingness to part with something before it is worn out. We no longer feel embarrassed by duplicating things. Note however the emergence of Generation Zero. “All my possessions in one bag. iPad, iPod, two pairs of £200 jeans, one pair great shoes, one pair of Nikes, three expensive shirts, three very expensive t-shirts, socks, underwear etc. the best, pair of Ray bans. Have bag will travel”…the Steve McQueen mercenary of the 21st century.
Car ownership changed has everything
Car ownership in the USA is the greatest in the world and between 1900 and 1020 did something remarkable: 0% 1900; 1% 1910; 26% 1920; today 89%. Cars emancipate people…make tem tourists and consumers. Make them think.
Clock time. Event time.
Maybe Kreitzman is better informed and more engaging on time than any other published writer – read “Rhythms of Life” for more. There’s clock time – by which we are trapped and event time: pissing time, rice cooking time, prawn frying time, a destination (in theAndes) so many cigarettes away. People used to be more relaxed and responded to nature cocks crowing and so on – now if we wake before the alarm we anxiously wonder as we look at our watch “what time is it?”
“The clock is the key machine of the modern world”
This is what Lewis Mumford said in “Technics and Civilisation”. Because we’ve used it to measure things like performance. Time in factories literally became money. Time Management is a source of great anxiety. Everything is scheduled.
Using time to advantage
BMW’s flexible working practices deserve scrutiny. They work at the Regensburg plant nine-hour shifts on a two-shift pattern. This = a four day week. Productivity increased when it was set up by 25%. At the Munich plant workers do an extra 35 minutes a day but get an extra long weekend every five weeks. Part time work is increasing dramatically too. The more enlightened companies are using time as a motivator.
Go to the dentist after 3pm
Simply because tolerance of pain higher in the afternoon. But that’s not all. Determine if you are an “Owl” (night) or a “lark” (early morning person. Work out your own body rhythms to work better.
The mimosa test
Time is not a human invention. They put a mimosa plant in a dark cupboard and it came into bloom every day devoid of sunlight because an inner clock said it should. Time is not just at our convenience but dealing wit it is proving beyond many of us.
Speed or die
In a world where speed drives success, where we are 24 hour animals, where everything from dating to reading is about speed (a nephew of mine has just been on speed mentoring) let’s recognisee the truth of the Daddy of futurism, Alvin Toffler, “From now on the world will be split between the fast and the slow.”
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