I think I speak for most of American workers when I say that we love our long weekends. I’ve been known to keep my alarm set for my normal wakeup time on a Monday holiday. Really. Just for the pleasure of turning it off and rolling over to go back to sleep – a pleasure I never indulge in during the work week.
Time is a precious and scarce commodity these days – I know many professionals, especially those with children, who feel time-starved. There’s just never enough time to fit in everything we want to do: exercise, schedule a date night, finish projects around the house, play games with the kids…
What if every weekend were a long weekend?
I’ve written before about Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson developed this theme for a book in the 1950’s, and nothing has yet proved him wrong. Try telling anyone – from your 3-year-old to a mid-level manager – that she can do something fun as soon as she finishes the (insert unappealing adjective here) task at hand. You will see a flurry of productivity you didn’t dream possible. Done and out the door in record time.
Who wouldn’t benefit from an extra personal day a week? Imagine employees who come back to work after sleeping in for a day. Or spending a day with family. Or getting their to-do list finished off, shopping done, or spending the day at a yoga retreat. Refreshed, relaxed, and ready to focus again.
Some experts believe that most workers could increase productivity and produce the same amount of work in 32 hours instead of the traditional 40. The Results Only Work Environment concept embraces this idea. Set goals for a worker and release him when the work is done – no judgment, no penalty for leaving work early. Or starting your day after noon if you’re not a morning person. ROWE is the brainchild of Gen X authors Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson from their delightfully titled opus Why Work Sucks and What to Do About It.
Your 32-hour company might even become a talent magnet, attracting the best workers, who incidentally might just be the most productive. Of course, you also have the 4/10 model available: working the same number of hours in a compressed work week. And of course you could stagger days off so essential functions are covered. (Any other lame excuses? Get creative, for Pete’s sake.)
Jason Fried, the CEO and founder of tech company 37 Signals, gives his employees a 32-hour work week from May through October. In a 2012 op-ed piece for the New York Times, he wrote: “The benefits of a six-month schedule with three-day weekends are obvious. But there’s one surprising effect of the changed schedule: better work gets done in four days than in five. When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”
The 40-hour work week is a man-made creation. I think the world would be a better place if every weekend was a long one. What do you think?