I don't know that it's counter-intuitive at all. I've burnt out before on urgent projects which ended up delayed and of marginal importance. I've seen people culture urgency and watched them value doing something over doing something right. The apparent urgency of a task trumps the mental and physical well-being of the people appointed to it. It's downright unhealthy.
What it really is though is unpolitic. Especially in the USA, suggesting that something can wait, or that the morale boost from working less will end up in more productivity angers a lot of people.
"Especially in the USA, suggesting that something can wait, or that the morale boost from working less will end up in more productivity angers a lot of people."
"They're out of their minds! They suggest that it can wait and the morale boost from working less will end up in more productivity... Blasphemy! They're just lazy! I've worked 90 hours a week for 7 years, and because of that I'm ill and borderline insane, but IT'S WORTH IT, I'M PRODUCTIVE!!! Sure, I'm chronically stressed and made 3 burn-outs, but I get stuff DONE. Those no-goods can't understand what it's like. They don't understand what sacrifice means! Grumble."
You are right, i was unclear here. I didn't mean "urgency is poisonous" is counter-intuitive, but rather the advice in the blog-posting "we work less (4 days a week) to be more productive".
The issue with urgency is that you often have no control over it. Can a startup beat a competitor by saying "let's work less"? I doubt. Urgency can also have the positive effect of concentrating all forces towards a certain goal.
Working fewer hours does not mean you do less work. Indeed, the improvement in efficiency can mean you ultimately produce more. It's like if you drive a car at 100mph everywhere, you'll use more gas per mile than driving at 55mph (indeed, this was why that limit was set).
(Update: Heh, just noticed someone else used an automotive metaphor above!)