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ZDFzoom gray area: "Less work, more life – is that possible?" – TV criticism

Created: 08/10/2022, 3:50 p.m

„ZDFzoom: Grauzone: Weniger Work, mehr Life - Geht das?“: Die Hosts Tarkan Bagci und Sissy Metzschke stehen nebeneinander in einem abgedunkelten Raum und lächeln in die Kamera.
The “Gray Zone” hosts Tarkan Bagci and Sissy Metzschke explore the question of how much work-life balance we can afford given the severe staff shortage. © ZDF/Banijay

A ZDF report is dedicated to the question of how employee wishes and the needs of the labor market can be reconciled.

Frankfurt – Occasionally you hear the word “hippie” as a swear word. The values and behavior of this subculture, which was originally spatially limited to San Francisco and also limited in time, are widespread today: respect for nature, mobile home odysseys, a balanced relationship between gainful employment and leisure time. Or to go even further
decline, the rejection of gainful employment in which the individual “feels not well but unhappy, does not develop free physical and mental energy (…)”.

Karl Marx already knew about it in 1844, and in 2022 Generation Z, meaning those born after 2000, are looking for solutions. Jonas Manke, for example. The trained architect sailed across the Atlantic with friends and is currently working temporarily as a freelance photographer, only to set sail again as soon as possible. A financial fortune is secondary to him. “Freedom is more important to me (…)”, he says.

ZDF documentary “Less work, more life – is that possible?”: Germany – an amusement park?

Manke is one of the people interviewed in the ZDF reportage with the ridiculously long title “ZDFzoom: Gray Zone Documentation – Less Work, More Life. (Producer: Banijay Productions). The question is discussed by the authors Marcus Bark, Melissa Holland-Moritz and Marc Schlömer not only on a personal level, as with Jonas Manke, but also very broadly on a societal level. According to surveys, 53 percent of Generation Z value a high level of free time.

The situation on the labor market is compared. The Central Association of German Crafts speaks of around 250,000 vacancies. Training positions also remain vacant. With the widely noticeable consequence that construction projects, including rental apartments, cannot be completed in line with demand. Even the best political plans are useless.

The situation in the care sector can hardly be surpassed in terms of precariousness. This too is exemplified on film. Not only is there a lack of young people, experienced staff jump off because the working conditions have become unacceptable.

ZDF documentary “Less work, more life – is that possible?”: Those willing to work are ready

In Germany there is a reservoir of workers. Afghanistan refugees, for example, who would like to resume their jobs. Bureaucratic hurdles prevent this. Absurdly, at the same time, there is courting abroad for skilled workers. The prerequisites were created with the “Skilled Workers Immigration Act”, what a monster of a word. One would like 260,000 per year, so far 3,200 have come.

The search for possible solutions is added to the reporter’s inventory. How is the work to be done, how is the pension fund to be filled? Retirement at 67 or even at 70? The 42-hour week? Or on the contrary, a reduction in the weekly workload? Belgium is leading the way, there is a free choice between the four and five-day week. In Germany, too, the model is already being practiced in isolated cases. In Great Britain there is a scientifically supported trial with working hours reduced by 80 percent compared to the standard with 100 percent pay.

ZDFzoom: gray area Less work, more life – is that possible?
genre documentary
Authors Marcus Bark, Melissa Holland-Moritz and Marc Schlömer
camera Mike Lenzenbach, Samir Anouri
production Banijay Productions

ZDF documentary “Less work, more life – is that possible?”: Abstract calculations

The research results moderated and discussed by Tarkan Bagci and Sissi Metzschke address many aspects of the topic. This inevitably leads to generalizations. The authors assume that a university degree automatically entails a high salary. This is of course not the case, but varies greatly from subject to subject, just as the working time variants mentioned cannot be applied to all sectors in the same way.

The fact that working hours are not equivalent to work performance deserves a closer look. If a sick employee drags himself to work – everything has happened before – he will not complete the same amount of work in eight hours as a
healthy, rested, well rested colleague. A circumstance that is not taken into account by the pension insurance, for example, where work performance is still measured purely in hours.

“ZDFzoom: Gray zone documentation Less work, more life – is that possible?”

Wednesday, August 10, 2022, 10:45 p.m., ZDF and already in the ZDF media library. (Video available until 08/09/2024)

Another example: The film quotes from a study that calculates the extent to which a job can be taken over by machines. For cashiers, the value is 100 percent. Unworldly, because
Retail employees not only sit at the checkout, but also do other tasks on the side. Be it just the friendly assistance for people who do not get along with modern price labeling systems. (Harold Keller)

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