Out of the average 40 hours in a five-day work week, you’re probably only productive for about six hours in each day for a weekly total of 30 productive hours (it’s okay, you can be honest – we’re all friends here). Don’t believe me? Think about the time you or your co-workers spend on the internet, talking to someone about what movie you saw last night, going to the bathroom, making a personal phone call – I bet these all add up to about 2 hours a day. Still unconvinced? Consider how in a “short week” you manage to produce nearly as much work as a regular week. And, by the end of those four days, you find yourself saying, “wow, for a short week this certainly felt long.” So, if you can get relatively the same work done in four days as in five days, why not move to four-day work weeks with a much-coveted three-day weekend? Really, this isn’t that big of a logic leap: some companies already offer adjusted work schedules such as 4 days x 10 hours. But I’m more interested in 4 days x 8 hours.
Let’s talk benefits. First and foremost, you get an extra day to relax and unwind. Every weekend I’ve had for the past, well, as long as I can seem to remember is taken up by running errands, housework, and – chances are – some event or gathering. While these can be fun, sometimes you just need some downtime to sit and do nothing or lose yourself in a project you’re passionate about; now you have a day for that. Second, the company gets the same amount of work done in a week, it just occurs in four days instead of five. The company’s expectations haven’t changed and you agree to deliver on those. The trick here is that very little needs to change except you have a few less of those side conversations (shoot, because I really wanted to hear more about how AMAZING your kid is). And third… third… hang on, I’m stuck daydreaming about having three-day weekends…. Okay, third, the quality of our relationships and interactions in the world would be more positive. When you’re well-rested, happier in your life, and not feeling stressed you have more fun, resolve conflicts easier, and are – pay attention here companies – more productive.
Some of the obstacles I see are 1) Companies not acknowledging that what I describe in the opening paragraph is actually commonplace (despite everyone already knowing it), 2) People not increasing their productivity to deliver in a four-day week, and 3) Society not willing to change the structure of our profit-driven work culture. But these sorts of obstacles can be managed and overcome, not to mention it would be a tremendous achievement towards truer “work-life balance.” This may just be the whimsical musings of one man but the makeup of our work force is changing and with it brings different attitudes and perspectives on what “work” should be. Over the next decade, I think we’ll see an even greater transformation and maybe I can convince enough people that three-day weekends be included in that.