Here’s my responses to the article’s specific claims:
You’d be healthier. Yes, I generally get more exercise. I’d already changed my eating habits to avoid snacking and this hasn’t changed.
You’d sleep more. Not sure. Seems about the same although I can vary my sleep time to suit my own activities.
You’d be less of a jerk, probably. You’d have to ask my wife that.
All of that, plus, you’ll be better at your job.
Not sure. I'm slightly less aware of what’s going on in the office and wider industry but in general more relaxed.
On balance it’s been a really good thing. I haven't managed to progress all of the side-projects I intended to but I have definitely achieved my primary goal of improving my life-work balance. The pay cut is tolerable and in any case my wife and I were planning to scale back some of our more expensive activities (such as going camping rather than staying in hotels).
It's also sent a clear message to my colleagues and management (all of whom have been supportive) about my work expectations. I still have responsibilities (e.g. for deliverables) so there is still pressure that doesn’t go away. I also tend not be the first pick for activities that require long term full-time commitment, or for the company to make an investment in my personal development (e.g. training in new skills). To date this hasn’t been a real problem – I'd made the decision to scale back because I'd gone as far up the corporate ladder as I’d wanted to. And I feel the same a year on.
The way I explain my mood to people is “Monday mornings are just as crappy as they ever were. But when I leave work on Wednesday, it’s already Friday.”
The closest I've got to this, is as a contractor - I don't look for new roles until one finishes.
This means I get about 1-3 months between each one.
3 day work week does sound healthier, the New Economics Foundation is in favour of it too
Before this, I was inspired by my mother working a 3 day week (not for maternity, I had already left home when she switched).
3 days is great since you are selling less than half your time.
Also, because I can flex my days around it is quite easy to create long periods away from work without booking too much leave. This is really useful, although I do try to remain predictable for the sake of my projects and colleagues.
Could you ask her and write what she says? Tell her HN wants to know. :-)
It's cut my unexpected PTO to zero, since I can just make up a bad day with a day I'd normally have off.
I try to use my off days to work on some side projects when I'm feeling well.
So far it's been working extremely well. I like working every other day.
Healthier: Yes, it's much easier to manage my condition this way.
Sleep more: Eh, I mostly get up at the same time I'd get up for work on my off days.
Less of a jerk: More like less of a frazzled mess, honestly.
Better at my job: My output is about the same as it was when I was trying (and failing) at working a 5-day week, so the company's getting the same output for less money. I'm generally more relaxed and in less pain, which helps immensely when working with code.
Do you think if you weren't the only one (I assume) doing 3-4 day weeks the lines of communication would be better defined and this problem would correct itself?
My take is that if your family is relatively healthy, then you should go for the lowest tier plan. Then you count on paying the premiums, plus some more for whatever doctor visits normally take place. Then, in the worst case scenario (something expensive happens to 2 family members), you would pay a (roughly) additional 100% of the cost of your premiums in a given year in medical costs. If you have pre-existing conditions or go to the doctor a lot, then a higher tier plan might make more sense for you.
Oh, forgot to mention, $950/mo for our family is the unsubsidized cost. Depending on your family's income, you could qualify for a subsidy from the government, which can be pretty significant. We qualified for a $400/mo subsidy this year (so total monthly cost is $550).
My big picture take on the U.S. vs. the rest of the world is that if you're a high earner, the U.S. is usually better, economically. The pay tends to be way higher here than in Canada or Europe (especially in the tech industry) and a social safety net can be purchased (in addition to health insurance, you can also buy yourself unemployment and life insurance, for example). I've done the math on moving to Canada (my wife is Canadian) and it ain't pretty. It would represent a huge reduction in our effective income.
Sounds like bullpen office layouts are the problem. We really need to go back to private offices.
You need technical people as the cofounder/upper management level to push back hard on that stuff. Via quiet separated office areas for developers, policies on 'distractions' during certain times OR when headphones are on OR Slack status is "Do Not Disturb", etc.
Re-potting the plants? Never urgent enough to be top of mind but will become an issue later. Those 15 opened and unread tabs? Let me at em. Painting that spot on the wall? A tad too inconvenient for a normal Tuesday but perfect for the clean up day.
How long is it really going to take to glance through those 15 unread tabs? Chances are you'll do a legit sweep of them in 45 seconds and then maybe 1 or 2 things will be worth reading. Before you know it, you just knocked it off your list in 5-10 minutes.
The same can be said for painting that spot on the wall, 10 real minutes end to end and you're done.
Now they are out of your mind instead of piling up between those clean up days where all you think about is "I wish I had time to do all of these things!". I know personally I'm the most happy when my queue is nearly empty.
The tabs are all things I've sent to my phone/home computer via pushbullet because they were articles I was interested in actually digging into and maybe doing more research on the topic later so they do takes some actual time or at least mental energy.
The wall painting and cleaning stuff is all quick time wise but there are other potential costs that accompany it. Painting brings the possibility of spilling the paint or getting it on my clothes or something. I also need to clean up the paint brush thoroughly which takes some time. Same with re-potting plants. What if I spill the soil and it goes everywhere? Big clean up. Yes unlikely but if I've only got 20 minutes on a Tuesday before I head out to do something else I don't want to risk it.
I am the most happy or at least the most focused when I finish all of these things thus the clean up day. It almost feels like there is a part of my brain that is dedicated to these tasks even if they are just sitting on my computer or around the place to be accomplished. It's great to finish them.
But what happens for the week or weeks in between that? Are you also equally as happy because those tasks are out of mind?
For me, I just constantly think about "I should have done...", "damn it, I really should do...", and before you know it, you get overrun by those thoughts and nothing gets done. The only way I've learned how to bypass that is to just do things as soon as possible. Sometimes I'll delay things from the morning to do at night, but I really try my best to do them now.
Then you're just constantly crushing out tasks and getting things done and it builds up a lot of positive momentum.
Sometimes easier said than done I know and I always dread whatever yak-shaving is going to result from easy task. But it's good advice in general.
Give yourself a reward for accomplishing these, if you have a roomate/SO, try to compete in a light way, on doing certain things, such as race to see who can do similarly sized tasks first/best/best-outcome etc
Most weeks 3 days of work and 1 of work related projects / study would net the organization I work for more meaningful relationship and production. It would also allow flexibility for weeks that needed additional stick time.
When I was at my first corporate job out of college my employer did a 9/80 schedule. So 9 hour days for 80 hours which meant every other Friday off. The extra hour for 8 days and a normal 8 hour day the day before being off was awesome. But it can be even better, I believe.
Does it just take a large, public display of it to be considered? Why is there still such a strong focus on 8x5?
I don't find myself healthier. I eat the same and I'm a little more active; but, not much. Not enough to make a real difference. Increased physical activity on one day is not better than spreading it out over a week.
I don't get more sleep. Numerous studies say to keep the same sleep schedule every day and one day is not going to make a difference,
I'm not less of a jerk. Having Friday off does not do anything to my energy levels on Monday - Thursday. I try to sleep and eat right all week.
I don't think am better at my job. While there is some less stress because I have an additional day not to think about it; I am also not around for anything that might come up on a Friday.
Taking the opposite Fridays off, from September/October through December? I haven't gone on a vacation and I can't carry those vacation days over to the next year.
IMHO we should be working less and have more free time for activities that would be good for our spirits/souls/minds.
Where are the robots, AI and all the other technological wonders that we were expecting for the 21st century?
I always think you should look at the effective free time you have left. I can't do much in my sleep (-8h), I can't do much on my commute (-1.5h), I can't do much in my lunch break (I have to take a 45 minute lunch break by law, it's way too short to use it as actual free time, but takes another significant chunk out of your day.)
I get to 24h-8h-8h-1.5h-0.75h = 5.75h of E.F.T. that's only 24% of your day you actually have for yourself, assuming comparatively reasonable western working times and pretty average commute times.
76% of your day is not effectively free time.
I'm in Stuttgart, Germany, it's a very crowded town with very narrow roads though, so there's certainly a reason for this.
Financially, the choice is quite accessible. For many groups in the Western world a bit less so than in 1970. Especially for us geeks, more accessible than ever.
Monday - Thursday: 10 hour days
Friday - Monday: 4 day weekend
Tuesday - Friday: 10 hour days
Saturday - Sunday: 2 day weekend
Work longer days, but get 4 day weekends every other week. The people I've known who've had this setup would generally work 6am-4pm.
Have you done it or worked with people who have?
Worked really well for the people who I knew who did it. Highly productive and the two 4 day weekends a month seemed great.
My point wasn't that this was better than an additional day off and less work. My point is that this should be acceptable today, and I'm surprised there isn't more buy in for flexible schedules like this.
I certainly liked the Fridays off. But, I'd say the 9 hours part was not optimal. Salaried employees typically already put in that much time so it didn't affect them. Hourly employees didn't seem to be that much more productive. They were just there longer and probably took slightly longer lunches...
I feel like just instilling a hard working culture and giving the whole company every other Friday off would have been better for productivity.
I feel the same about 8 hours
I'll also second the 10 hours being useless. Most days I really get about 4-5 hours of 100% work in. I don't think this would be any more productive than simply doing 3 day weekends with 8 hours of work, which I would prefer between the two.
The current job I'm in doesn't even use up my entire 6 daily hours of real-work capacity, but they still need my butt in my seat for 8 hours for contract billing purposes.
A 10-hour workday, 4 days per week, would be a 20% cut in my real work capacity, unless that extra 4 hours in the day were filled with mindless menial labor or some other form of brain-on-autopilot work.
The model is broken. The company divides my revenue generated by the number of hours my butt was in my seat to get some value-generated-per-hour metric. But it's not constant over time. In a work block, my productivity ramps up until I'm in "the zone", plateaus, and then rapidly tapers off at the mental fatigue limit. So my productivity in a day looks like this:
| .::::::. . | 100%
| :::::::::. .::. | 80%
|.:::::::::: :::: | 60%
|:::::::::::: .::::. . | 40%
|:::::::::::: :::::: ::. .. .. . . | 20%
0h 1h 2h 3h 4h 5h 6h 7h 8h 9h 10h11h12h
In my opinion we as a society are addicted to work.
We're not addicted to it, we're forced to do it or we go into homelessness and have an extremely hard time getting out of it. Homelessness has to exist in this system or people have nothing to be afraid of by not working. I don't think any of us are born just to endlessly work until we're 70, at least in this way. We're giving our entire lives away to someone else for profit.
I'm forced to work 40 hours per week no matter what I'm getting paid or I get fired, not sure how this is a 'choice'.
Not if you live in the US and want health insurance.
A 20% paycut is definitely liveable, and that extra day per week would make a lot of difference - either in terms of bootstrapping side projects, or just quality of life.
Tangential question: when people in the US say 9-5 work, do you take into account the lunch break or that 1 hour is still counted as workable?
I did love the schedule, though, and around holidays, I had some nice lengthy stretches of time off due to it.
I'm not in the US so I can't answer that!
There are practically no hourly jobs left in USA that pay you for your lunch. It's now 8-5. The 9-5 is long gone. 9 hours away from home every day without counting your commute. This is not a workers atmosphere.
But i am also not a youngster anymore, so side projects and work in general is not my prio #1 anymore
My hours aren't strict so in theory it could be 7 days/week but having tried that before, it's a bit too much to try and fit work into it without any time to relax.
I imagine that will motivate them to say yes. If not, no loss!
The interesting questions are: what length of work-week best balances everything? "Every weekend should be a 7-day weekend, because studies show that workers will be less stressed." What length of week would be good for workers, good for the economy, etc., etc.?
One thing that I've realized, having become an adult, is that just because your job makes you work 40 hours, doesn't mean you only work 40 hours. There are many other things in your life that you have to do that are also work: running errands, parenting, cleaning, cooking, etc.
The extra day helps for us to actually get somewhere during the weekend, and I really appreciate both having more family-time with my wife and daughter, as well as posibility to get somewhere on my own without the guilt of "but I should have been with my family".
On the other hand, I sometimes feel that I am not working enough at work and it has been tricky to align some of meetings within the team I work in, i.e. we have a lot of meetings on monday or friday :-/
Then someone named "Domingo" (Spanish for sunday) call them "guys, you are the inventors of Osvaldo" and tell the history of a group of friends inventing Sunday. It was very funny.
Couldn't find a best resolution:
A 6 day week, 4 days on, 2 days off would be much easier to devise a calendar for I think.
I read some people mentioning about working 10-hours a day and work from Monday to Thursday. If I was a business owner I wouldn't allow that. I would rather offer 5~6 hours work per day than allow him to work more for 4 days.
In my field of work (engineering) as a regular worker, I see people working 8 hours but they are not 8 hours productive. Discussing this with some friends we concluded that usually an average developer can focus for around 5 to 6 hours, tops. Then, by adding two hours a day, he won't be 7~8-hours-productive.
My bet (and that's a my own point of view) is that an average developer will keep being 5~6 hours productive. That's because the development process leads to mental exhaustion. After some time people will be much more distracted, leading to mistakes, etc.
Of course there are some folks that will argue that they can do 10~12h work per day. While this is true, usually they don't do it for long without being burned out. A very few exceptions can do that without getting stressed.
So, If I'm a business man and I want my employees to have more free time without affecting my business, I would reduce the hours per day rather then do 10 hours x 4 days a week.
* btw, that's about software engineering only. I don't think the mechanics of other business would work that way.
For example a dentist might choose to work 3-4 days a week, but be open to seeing patients from 9am to 8pm to compensate for people unable to go during normal business hours due to their own work schedules.
Then again I think that business is a lot different than software development. Technically we could sit there and work on 1 thing for 12 hours, where as a dentist is hopping between patients and has a bunch of small breaks through out the day in between patients. It might not be "goof off time" breaks, but it's something that breaks up the day.
Here's someone who has been working 4 days a week for the past 15 years: https://codewithoutrules.com/2018/01/08/part-time-programmer...
If the author is referring to corporate IT I do agree this niche is dying. Business support isn’t a great place to be. Operational roles in product typically pay better and give you a greater opportunity to make an impact.
Front-line/primary care providers in Canada at least are among one of the most in demand members of the work force. Look at the nurse shortage for example. If you get yourself a degree in nursing, you are almost guaranteed a job. If I look at members of my generation that I know who are employed VS not, I struggle to find any who majored in a professional health program (excluding premedical programs which are non-professional programs) who were not working in their field almost immediately after graduation.
In comparison, I know of a handful of people who graduated from highly in demand engineering programs and are entirely unemployed. As in, no job what so ever. Many also are not employed in their area.
First, it was far easier to avoid overtime because I was already working 9 or 10 hour days before anyways. It was just how the tasks worked out. Coming in early allowed me to help get the team spun up early in the morning, and staying a little late allowed me to help the team clear any roadblocks so they could end their day too. Obviously it's more complicated than that, but that's a decent high level abstraction.
Second, it allowed me to cut Mondays out of my life. According to my Automatic Labs sensor, my worst commuting days are Mondays with easily 25-30% longer drives each way. Additionally, Mondays are horrible as there's a higher likelihood of hangovers with colleagues, or residual homelife drama that absolutely must be described between 7 and 10am. All the worst meetings happen on Mondays. It just goes and goes.
But after only a couple weeks I started to realize some other benefits. I started walking my son to kindergarten in the morning, and picking up my daughter from school in the afternoons, which allowed me many more focused hours of "play time" with them. I got several hours in the middle of the day (like right now) to read the web at my leisure, work on personal creative projects that had nothing to do with work, take some MOOC courses, etc.
Now, the negatives.
First, my wife who works part time 5 days a week imagines I sit at home drinking beer and watching TV at 9am. It took a while to really establish that just because I work 4 days a week doesn't mean I'm not still working 40 hours a week. I also do end up "working" on Mondays anyways, but just on education, home renovations, even if I do spend the first couple hours on HN articles.
Second, I had to institute a full communications embargo with colleagues on Mondays. It was just too easy for conversations about BS to slip back into work talk because that's how we roll in a normal workday anyways, mixing business and personal anecdotes. This could be hard for others to do.
Third, I find it nearly impossible to do any personal projects during the week now. Before, after an 8 or 9 hour day, I could come home and find some motivation for an hour or two of other stuff. Now, after a solid 10 hour day, I come home, decompress for about 30 mins, then it's time to start the bedtime ritual for the kids. There's no space or energy left for projects.
All in all, it was a great change. I've seen others who have completely flexible schedules (40 hours in a week however they want), or simply "five nines" where they get a day off every second week, and other variations. The moral of the story is: fuck Mondays.
0: https://automatic.com (not affiliated, just a customer)
For essential personnel, they cover all days of the week by working a rotating schedule of 9-day cycles (+3-1+3-2) plus one vacation week of 9 days off in a row, which adds to the previous 2-day weekend for a total of 11 consecutive days off. Festivus has staggered 3 on, 2 off, at double pay. Employees draw straws at 60% probability for working a leap day.
There's no need to rename the months. Years start on January 1st and follow Gregorian leap day rules.
People obviously vary. I've worked with people who didn't have any particular trouble taking time off but they just didn't like travel and preferred just expanded weekends. For myself, I'd rather have most of the time for longer trips with just some longer weekends here and there.
Also, if you believe that one should have rent and food without work (and probably not paying for it), why would you expect those that provide the food and shelter to do their job without remuneration? Are you in favor of developing a class of people who have no choice but to do work for the benefit of others without pay? I feel like I've heard of that idea before.
Simply unacceptable !!!
Now go back to work 5 days a week!
"maybe we can just have the engineers work weekends or something? Well, I think most of us know that's a losing battle. First of all, even if we could get engineers to work, say, on Saturdays without any other losses (eg. burnout), that would only be a 20% improvement. 20%? Give me a break. If I said I was going to do a talk about how to improve your team's efficiency by 20%, you wouldn't even come. You can produce 20% more by hiring one more person for your 5-person team, and nobody even has to work overtime. Forget it.
Adding 20% more people doesn't make the software come out 20% faster because:
1) Multiple people need to work on the same critical section of the code, and then there are merge conflicts. (Or people disagree on the design, or refactoring becomes a higher priority than doing what users want, etc.)
2) People work sloppily and omit relevant tests, only for someone else to have to re-discover the bug, fix it, and write the tests (trading productivity from one person to another).
3) People work on the wrong tasks, adding 20% more technical debt but not fixing 20% of the highest-priority bugs.
4) People take 20% less responsibility so you end up with "someone else will handle that (where "that" is usually documentation, monitoring, deployment, or anything else not explicitly captured in your list of bugs/priorities).
It is very interesting to me how internal software development often fails (I'm sure I've been the point of failure before), but software development CAN scale. I use AWS, for example, and I'm sure their software engineering teams are messing with products/features that my team uses. But they don't make me 20% slower. Ultimately, overly-tight coupling gets you every time. But on the other hand, too much isolation can also be a problem (time spent overengineering). If you find that balance, you can scale your team infinitely ;)
How do you explain the "paradoxical magic" in the final third of the article where, in every historical case of shortening work hours, "management was surprised to discover that output actually increased — and that expensive mistakes and accidents decreased"? Or the recent example of the Boston firm that took a day off in the middle of every week, and whose clients "reported an improvement in service"?
Are there any examples of companies going to a 4-day-week and reporting decreased productivity?
What's the right amount of worked? You cannot keep cutting hours and expect productivity to go up indefinitely.
In addition, the right number of hours probably has some variability among the population. I'm very much against a one sized fits all amount work environment.
This seems like a good idea especially given more automation and more higher level jobs.
>This seems like a good idea especially given more automation and more higher level jobs.
Automation means fewer jobs and less flexibility, not the opposite. The more work machines do, the less value human labor has, the harder employers have to squeeze their employees to even make a profit from them. One just has to look at a company like Amazon to see how that trend leads.
I've certainly worked for companies where other companies contracted out their software development tasks to us. They did not care what hours we worked; they spent their money and expected a result X months later. Whether we worked on their project from 9-5 was something they would not even know, much less care about.
Sure M-F, 9-5, most work gets done, but there are times where nothing is happening at 4PM and there are times that I'm needed Saturday morning.
The future will be defined by roles at big companies rather than hours of attendance.
Very acceptable !!!
Stop slacking off by taking 2 days off out of every 5!
(On a serious note, I think you will find that productivity does not scale linearly over the number of days per week worked.)
I find it's worst when you have chores or other jobs that need to be done in the weekend and your kids, for whatever reason, take a particular objection to cooperating. So in many ways I could see a 3 day week as potentially helping there since you'd have an extra day for chores thus could work to the children's schedule a little more. That is assuming, of course, that we don't end up with two "Sundays". (in many UK suburbs Sunday can be an absolute nightmare as everything opens late and shuts early).
Seriously though going on hikes with my three year old for three or four hours is amazing. We only hike about as many miles, but it’s amazing how great kids are if you just give them the chance.
Someone I know worked at a supermarket as a cashier at some point and she asked for a few days off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She asked for this a few months in advance. Her manager looked at here puzzled and sneered "What do you want off for?" as if it was strange to want to have a few days off on Christmas. Luckily for her it was just her student job and she quit before Christmas came around, but some people are not in a position to quit/negotiate and have to put up with asshole-bosses all the time.
Here in the Netherlands shops stay open longer and longer and on more days (they used to be closed on Sunday). This leaves people who don't have an education that gives them a lot of job security open to exposed to the whims of their bosses.
I think ideas like having the ability to choosing your weekends (2 or 3 days) leaves those 2 or 3 days open to discussion and gives some managers a chance to wiggle them out from under you. You see a similar effect with the 'unlimited holiday'-companies out there; the effect is that people feel pressured into taking less days off than they would have had with a more traditional number of days at other companies.
Also, schools are open during the week, not the weekend, so parents are pretty much stuck with the 'normal' weekend anyway.
Unless you're in retail or service (your primary example); then you don't get the weekends and holidays; nay you have less control of your schedule on weekends and holidays.
Choosing your weekends is also contrare, because as the other commentary goes, and a lot of psychology, your time off is best spent with other people.
Everyone is in a position to quit/negotiate. People who tell themselves they aren't are just living in a cage they keep themselves in. Have some initiative and make a positive lifestyle change!
The problem is that it's virtually impossible to do a controlled experiment.