I’m tired of working 5 days each week. How about we work 4 days a week instead?
Now I’m not saying that we need to drop the work week down from 40 hours (though it would be nice). Instead, I want to work 4 shifts of 10 hours each. Condensing my 40 hour week to 4 days rather than 5 has a number of benefits, and relatively few downsides for my field.
The most obvious benefit, and the reason I came to my conclusion about a 4 day work week, would be the 3 day weekend. If you don’t have any plans, it’s an extra 24 hours to do whatever you want. Camping trip? No need to spend PTO or leave work early, you have a full 3 days to go. Busy day you need to recover from? Now you have 2 days to sleep it off.
In addition to the extra free time this allows, it also frees up a weekday to take care of errands. Working standard hours of 8 to 5, Monday to Friday, I rarely have a chance to go to the bank or other institutions without squeezing it into a lunch break. Working 4 days instead of 5, I have a full day to take care of any business for the week.
“But Jake,” you might say, “this means that everybody would be off and thus the businesses would be closed.” That is possible. But, what if we coordinate that not everybody has the same day off? Some people take Monday, some take Friday, and some maybe even take a day through the week. This means that businesses can still operate for the full 5 days, but everybody gets an extra day off.
With the extra 2 hours in a day, that also means I can develop for longer stretches. Being salary, I hate staying over at work unless I absolutely have to. At the same time, it can be inconvenient to wrap things up and then start back the next morning. Stretching out my day a little longer, I have more time in any given sitting to work on projects.
Though there are plenty of benefits for my 4 day work week idea, there are also some undeniable downsides.
For some jobs, a few extra hours each day is a big deal. Nurses typically work 12 hour shifts and they rarely get a chance to sit down and rest. My wife worked as a CNA for a period, and I can attest to the fact that she would come home absolutely exhausted. For labor intensive jobs like that, moving from an 8 hour shift to a 10 hour shift might not be feasible.
In fields that require fairly constant monitoring, a full extra day can be too much time without updates or an available worker. This could be remedied with an on-call schedule, but making sure workers are accessible by phone for a full 3 day weekend week after week could be difficult.
Obviously, the idea isn’t perfect, and it would have to be fleshed out quite a bit before being put into practice. However, I feel like people in general are far too willing to accept the 8 to 5 status quo without question. Why not try out a new system that offers more flexibility, at least in the fields that it could benefit?
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