Monday, 11 April 2011

Campaign for Real Daylight

There have been the usual arguments associated with the onset of BST about whether we should move to Central European Time in order to take advantage of even longer evenings before sunset, and the usual counter arguments about loss of morning daylight in winter.

Now I think these discussions miss the point by some margin.

The centre of the day - the mid-point of daylight hours, when the sun is highest - is noon, or in BST, 1pm. Centre an 8-hour working day around that, with an hour for lunch, and it starts at 07:30 GMT or 08:30 BST.

The real problem is that we get up later, and go to bed later, than we've ever done. Often we now work from 09:30 or even 10:00 and frequently don't leave work before 6:30 or later. Rather than trying to make the clock fit around what we now do, shouldn't we make a simple adjustment to our habits?

If 'Normal Office Hours' adopted the Real Daylight approach, and started at say 8am, then at a stroke we get more daylight back in the evening. Adjust public transport timetables, and let shop times match the office workers, and you are half-way there.

Most logistics companies already start much earlier anyway, and should not be affected (unless they want to get on the roads even sooner to beat the now earlier commuters). Farm workers, of course, are already geared to maximising use of daylight.

What other impediments are there to sensible getting up and going to bed times? Well, the TV schedules would be easy to move, and the likes of restaurants and bars would fall into line with customer requirements.

School times are already a problem for working parents, being able to deliver the kids to school and pick them up at times which don't impact their jobs. Shouldn't school times similarly adjust to what is convenient around the new office hours?

All it requires is a general voluntary agreement by most employers to make the adjustment at an agreed date - probably a clock change date - and it would be so easy to implement. Inside a month, we'd all have forgotten the previous ways of working, and the change would seem natural.

Would we need Daylight Saving (BST) any longer? Well, I'd suggest only if the rest of Europe fails to fall into line. Otherwise, we'd have automatically saved daylight by the simple fact of centring the work day on the daylight period.

Of course, many people complain they are 'night persons' or find it hard to get up early. What they really mean is they find it hard to adopt the self-discipline of going to bed at a sensible time. Such people will of course adjust to the new times, will still fail to go to bed at the appropriate time, and will still complain just as they do now!

So let's start the Campaign for Real Daylight now. Don't be seduced by arguments for yet more clock changes - use the natural daylight we already have!