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Every Weekend Should Be a 3-Day Weekend (2015) (thecut.com)
264 points by joeyespo 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 172 comments

I’m in the fourth decade of my career and I switched to a three day week almost a year ago, taking a proportional pay cut. I work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to get the largest contiguous block of time (Thursdays and Fridays) where the places I want to go to are family/child free. If work needs me to swap a day (e.g. to go to a Thursday meeting) I’ll often do that and occasionally I'll work longer one week and then less the next. If I'm not doing anything on a non-working day I’ll answer my work phone to keep things moving along but I avoid taking on tasks that mean firing up my laptop. So far, I haven't accidentally moved back to full time working by stealth. The precedent at work for me doing this is women on post-maternity three day weeks, for which all of whom said that the company had treated them fairly.

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.”

Fantastic :)

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.

I decided that I would rather have continuous but predictable employment in a totally known environment rather than longer periods of time off and the pressure of finding new work (harder as you get older or if the market contracts).

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.

You’d be less of a jerk, probably. You’d have to ask my wife that.

Could you ask her and write what she says? Tell her HN wants to know. :-)

She is at work so I can't ask her right now. Honest. Realistically she'd probably say that I am more relaxed for more of the time. Which probably makes me less of a jerk.

I'm also working a three-day week with a paycut, but for health reasons. I have a chronic pain condition. My normal schedule is M-W-F, but if I have a bad pain day I can switch around and work a Tues or Thurs instead.

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.

> I'm slightly less aware of what’s going on in the office and wider industry but in general more relaxed.

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?

I suspect that if more people were more absent then we would all be less well informed (in my workplace, YMMV). I've noticed before when comparing on-prem vs. home working (which I also do sometimes) that you miss out on the 'micro-meetings' (e.g. a short chat while making coffee) where useful snippets of information are exchanged. I've never found an adequate replacement for these.

i think everyone would choose this for the most part. The problem is heath insurance (in the us). Even at full pay, if you’re not on your company’s policy it’s almost unaffordable. And most companies will not allow you to be on their plan if you classify as “part time”.

The cut-off for part-time (legally) is 30 hours. 30 hours or more and they have to provide you with health insurance (assuming company is big enough): https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/employers/identifyin...

Health insurane is expensive, but eminently doable for most technical salaries. Ours is about $950/mo for a family of 5.

What kind of health plan is that, if you don't mind my asking (Context: I've been living abroad 10 years, had a family while down here, we are thinking of moving back but the cost of healthcare and its quality is a big issue for us).

That is the highest deductible plan (bronze in Obamacare parlance). Yearly visits are covered, as are milestone visits for children. Other than that we pay out of pocket. Our total amount per year that we are responsible for beyond premiums is capped at $6k per person and $13k for the entire family (I believe; the actual numbers might be a little different, but these are in the ballpark).

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.

What I really need is a weekly study day: Spend a whole day just studying and reading something (which may be completely unrelated to my work). Some of my most productive ideas have come from such study.

What I need is a weekly work day :). My workplace is so distracting that I barely ever get to do focused work. The background noise drives me crazy and then always somebody wants to have another meeting about something that has been discussed dozens of times before.

> What I need is a weekly work day :). My workplace is so distracting that I barely ever get to do focused work. The background noise drives me crazy and then always somebody wants to have another meeting about something that has been discussed dozens of times before.

Sounds like bullpen office layouts are the problem. We really need to go back to private offices.

And let's have less people whose only job is to report to each other about work instead of doing work. Unfortunately managing is paid better than doing so I don't see that changing.

I would quit so fast if my workplace was like that. That is not an environment where (good) software can be created.

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.

This cannot be stressed enough IMO.

I think this is why a lot of companies in the SF Bay Area have regular work from home days, 2-3 days a week, allowing you to either just focus work or study on those days; leaving meetings for the remaining days

I require what I call a, "clean up" day once every few weeks. I wish I had one every week. It's a day when I can sit on my computer or around my apartment and do all those little things that pile up.

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.

I think life becomes less stressful when you just bang those things out on demand.

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.

I agree with you. However life gets in the way sometimes and those little quick things get delayed until later. Enough of those build up and that's when I run into those.

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.

> I am the most happy or at least the most focused when I finish all of these things thus the clean up day

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.

I'm not much for time management systems in general but one of David Allen's GTD tips I always liked was the advice that, if something will just take you five minutes, just do it.

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.

Yes - I, like many, never actually finished GTD. But I still use the general approach. The sticky things tend to be the non critical more than 7 minutes but less than 20 minute tasks. But I will credit GTD with helping me get over the, "this thing is going to take so long" mindset and more often than not the, "this will only take a minute or two" mindset.

His ideas around doing reviews of your todos, etc. are also useful. Even if you don't do a formal review every Friday afternoon or whenever, the general concept fits well with his overall ideas around breaking tasks into manageable chunks and generally not being overwhelmed with an undifferentiated 75 item todo list.

This is the type of task that can be positively gamified.

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

This. While I will often block off two or three hour chunks early in the week for deep dive I often relent on releasing that time to yet another meeting. Having switched employers a few times in the last 5 years I find myself taking more and more time off between. It's amazing how much you can clean off your plate of learning, catching up and self improvement in that amount of time. Ultimately I feel as though it's personal debt accumulated from not having time at work to sharpen the saw continuously.

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?

Because most employers can get 9/10x5

Understood. But does it net anything positive beyond said "extra" hours? It's like the new quarterly earnings game on Wall Street: let's all report non-GAAP and make it look like we're not losing money.

I think you need more time. If a company offered me a years full pay leave after 5 years to study full time, with fees covered I would valued that a LOT more than all of the other workplace perks available.

I've worked at few places that instituted a weekly 'meetingless day' and I can't recommend it enough. It is amazing how much work you can get done when do know you have 8 hours of consecutive focus and can look forward to it weekly.

I spend three hours a day commuting via subway. I've started reading textbooks about my field on the train and it's amazing how much it's improved my skills. I also read fiction and other things, which have their own benefits. If I ever get a job closer to home, I want to keep blocking off part of my day for reading/studying.

Whole heartedly agreed. My main contributions have been when bringing knowledge from disperate domains together.

Based on my personal observations, I don't know that any of those "benefits" are true. For about eight months of the year, I have a 3-day weekend every other weekend. (Nine hour days with every other Friday off and eight hour days on the other Fridays.) Around September, I burn vacation days taking the opposite Fridays off, so I have at least a 3-day weekend ever weekend for the remainder of this year. I've done this for a number of years now.

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.

Why do you do that then?

The work schedule with every other Friday off? Because I would end up working at least nine hours anyway. It's nice if I am going out of town for the weekend.

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.

Our society is such that we typically work 8 out of 24 hours(33%), 5 out of 7 days(71%) and 11 out of 12 months(91%), with exceptions ofcourse. All those aeons of evolution so as to come out of our caves and settle for this?

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?

>Our society is such that we typically work 8 out of 24 hours(33%)

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.

In what city is 1.5h the average commute time, just to make sure I'll never go there.

I don't sleep in the office, so my commute is 45min x 2, which as far as I know is quite average.

I'm in Stuttgart, Germany, it's a very crowded town with very narrow roads though, so there's certainly a reason for this.

Seattle. I work with people who have 2hr commutes, both ways.

That would be 4h in my calculation, because I counted the time per day you can't freely allocate.

when i was working at an office, my avg commute was 1h each way (using uber). that's são paulo, brazil where 150+km of traffic jams is not unusual.

To add to that - 5.75h free time might seem like a decent amount (although you didn’t account for things like washing, cooking, shopping which eat up much of the remaining time) but much of that time is after work when I’m normally fried from ~12 hours working/commuting/doing chores, leaving me incapable of anything that’s even moderately mentally taxing

Yeah, it depends a bit on how much you enjoy cooking, but there's definitely something to that.

Working less is a choice many can make if prepared to take the financial and cultural consequences.

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.

Basically, you would be taking your retirement in small chunks instead of at the end of your life.

People need to work to create them.

I'm surprised we haven't seen more of the mixed compromise:

   Monday - Thursday: 10 hour days
   Friday - Monday: 4 day weekend
   Tuesday - Friday: 10 hour days
   Saturday - Sunday: 2 day weekend
and then it repeats. Same hours worked overall.

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.

My strong impression is that this is a waste of time. You can keep people in their seats for 10 hours, I guess, but you're not going to consistently get 10 hours of productivity. If we want to give people an extra day off -- and I think we should! -- then we should just do it. You can't really make up the time somewhere else.

I believe this is very person-specific. I can work 10 hours day without any problem. I'd MUCH prefer to work 10 hours a few days and take a day off, or work only in the morning and take afternoon to myself. For me, most weekdays are "lost" days since I work 9:30 to 5:30 then I work out until 7:30 or 8pm. I love cooking elaborate meals so dinner takes me until 9 to 10pm. I like sleeping 7.5 to 8 hours so I have only 2 hours to socialize/chill/read/play a game/watch youtube, which is usually not enough "cooling" time for me. I'd prefer if I worked 9 to 7 instead, then work out, then eat dinner, then sleep but take one more day off for socialization/entertainment I'd enjoy my life better, I think. I don't care that much though, I'm fairly content with my current schedule.

> My strong impression is that this is a waste of time.

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 worked somewhere that did 9 hour days with every other Friday off. It basically made Fridays unproductive because half the company was off every Friday and it seemed like you always ended up needing to talk to someone who was off that Friday in order to make progress.

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.

Yes, and after hundreds of years of technological progress, it seems a bit silly to still force people to work the same amount of time.

> You can keep people in their seats for 10 hours, I guess, but you're not going to consistently get 10 hours of productivity

I feel the same about 8 hours

The huge problem for me would be the 10 hour days followed by a 2 day weekend. Hard pass.

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.

I think that most workplaces you wont get 4-5 hours of useful work done on average.

As in lower or higher?

Lower getting 4 or 5 hours is the exception in my experience.

Personally, I do not have 10 hours of work in me per-day. Honestly: I don't have 8 hours of work in me per-day, but my employer demands it. If they want to pay me to browse hacker news for an hour a day, so be it.

I can usually do a solid 4-hour block of real work. Then, after a short break, I can do another 2-hour block of real work. Then my brain is just toasted for any serious stuff until after a good sleep. For an 8-hour workday, that means I'm spending 2 hours on fluff tasks and clock-watching.

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%
  +---------------------------------------+   0%
   0h 1h 2h 3h 4h 5h 6h 7h 8h 9h 10h11h12h

This might work if you don't have kids - I tried a four-day week like this so I could spend a day a week with my daughter in the years before she goes to school, but I was so knackered by the day off that the extra day was an extremely low-quality one!

How does this compare to the recently proposed workday of 6 hours, see link?


One of the great surprises in the 20th century is that per worker productivity has risen massively, but we still work an unnecessary 40 hours a week. Realistically 15-18 hours would probably be enough to maintain early to mid 20th century output, and 30 hours would actually increase output a bit.

In my opinion we as a society are addicted to work.

>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.

Some work doesn't happen any faster despite worker productivity. The 40 hour work week isn't determined by the output, but rather by the income the worker receives. People are free to work 15-18 hours a week, but they don't.

>People are free to work 15-18 hours a week, but they don't.

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'.

Exactly my point. You make the choice to engage at a job that doesn't allow flexibility. There's more than one job out there.

In most cases, the employer establishes the hours worked. Working fewer hours would have to be negotiated with the employer.

>People are free to work 15-18 hours a week, but they don't.

Not if you live in the US and want health insurance.

There's another supporting argument to my point.

I agree. I'm thinking of moving to that model when my current contract comes up for renegotiation early next year.

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.

I did that and switched back to 5 as I found after a year that the extra day per week just didn't make enough difference compared to earning 20% more. I would much rather work full time and take a full year off every 5 years

Not as tax efficient though unfortunately. Maybe it doesn't make as much difference in the States where income tax is extremely low.

Actually I looked up California income tax and it isn't as low as I thought.

We have a number of states with no income tax.

Other option without the paycut could be 4 10-hours a day week. Might save on gas and other thing and will still have the 3 days weekend, although day to day activities like exercise might prove more difficult to do with fewer hours every day.

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?

Purely anecdotal: I feel like it used to mean 9-5, and somewhere in there you'd have lunch. These days I think it's more of a (misnomer) term for 8 hours of on-the-clock work, and most people are expected to go something like 8:30 - 5:30.

I worked a highly labor intensive job on 4-10's for about 18 months. It took a harsh toll on my joints. There wasn't enough recovery time to make up for the extended physical exertion.

I did love the schedule, though, and around holidays, I had some nice lengthy stretches of time off due to it.

My day has a two-hour commute at each end anyway, three or fours days per week (I'm remote the other days) so piling on an extra 2 is pretty much out of the question.

I'm not in the US so I can't answer that!

>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?

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.

Typically on a 9-5 day, you get 30 minutes paid for lunch.

I would be curious to know experiences of people who actually did it and what use they made of this time. Spent with family? Personal growth? Making money through freelancing or side projects?

I switched to a four day work week (cutting weekly hours, so not working more on those four days) a few months ago. It's glorious. I just use it as an additional weekend day, meaning time with family, hobbies and household chores.

But i am also not a youngster anymore, so side projects and work in general is not my prio #1 anymore

I work 3 day weeks so I can ski the other 4 days/week.

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 wish you all the best. It might be difficult if you are to set a precedent in your company.

If they say no then I'll probably move on as the commute is a killer.

I imagine that will motivate them to say yes. If not, no loss!

If you work less, you'll be less stressed! Although this article superficially looks like it's full of facts, it's a bit thin on anything beyond what can be guessed through common sense.

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.

I did this when negotiating salary at my last job. I discussed this with my wife, and we agreed, that having +20% salary wouldn't improve our lives much. Working 20% less probably would. So far it seems that it worked out :-)

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 :-/

It’s plus 25%, not 20, since you’d make 5/4 the pay.

They are correctly using the upper salary and hours as a reference point in both cases. Perhaps the language could be clearer, but it doesn’t make sense to use different reference points for comparison.

These are rough estimates :) while comparing offers of my previous and current employment, there was the thing of having less vacation when working part-time (only 16 days, no sick-days, compared to 25+5) but the 20% pay-rise vs 20% less work seemed like the simplest comparison to get across :)

One proposal has been to go to an 8-day week with a 3-day weekend. This only reduces worked days by 12%, instead of 20%.

There was a TV AD few years back in my country about a beer. A group of friends is discussing in a bar that 2-day weekends are not enough so they decided to add a new one called Osvaldo (the name of the waiter) and they go all around the world promoting an 8-day week with 3-day weekends.

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:


I’d rather have every second weekend 3 days off instead. 8 days in a row sounds just awful

I think they meant 5 day work week and 3 day weekend = 8 day week

Unfortunately that doesn't divide too nicely into the approximate 365 days rotation around the sun.

A 6 day week, 4 days on, 2 days off would be much easier to devise a calendar for I think.

Those are all advantages for workers. What are the advantages for businesses?

It's interesting that people are not considering the business point of view...

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.

It really depends on the profession I think. Sometimes you're forced to work really long hours just based on your business.

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.

Unfortunately most management wont understand that developers can only be productive for 5-6 hours. They often spend most of their time in meetings and will sometimes have 10-12 hour days doing this. They therefore think everyone should work 10+ hours and dont understand that most people that write code can't work these sorts of hours and be productive for it all

Theoretically, the quality of work per hour goes up. More than half of the observed workday in my experience is taken up with chitchat and other bullshit.

chitchat, facebook and replying to HN =)

You can pay employees less and retain them longer.

I just got a 20% raise to go with a promotion. I wished I had an opportunity to negotiate a 20% reduction in working hours instead- perhaps even along with a slight reduction in pay.

Did/have you asked? I know a handful of people who have asked and successfully accomplished this. I know a lot more people who wish they could but don't want to ask for fear of being seen as a low performer or something.

Um, actually no I didn't think to ask. That's a good point. I'm traveling to meet my distributed team next month, maybe I'll delicately broach the subject.

You can! I've done it, it's great.

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...

While I support this in theory, the news source looks less than credible. On another article they suggest that medical professionals as well as IT professionals were becoming "dead career fields" which is very odd.If you look at hiring statistics in the latter at the very least, you will see that this is somewhat alarmist.

Both “IT professionals” and “medical professionals” are incredibly vague terms.

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.

That's a very valid point. I was more confused by the point he was trying to make when he suggested that front-line medical workers are being less in demand however. In that respect, I was being vague, not the author. They directly mentioned that primary care workers are dying, which is demonstrably false.

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.

A few months ago I switched my time schedule from the standard "five eights" over to "four tens". I derived two benefits immediately.

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[0], 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)

I did 4/10 for a while but I found that during the four days I nothing but worth, commute and sleep. Maybe without the commute it would have viable but with an additional hour of driving I was completely shot in the evening. So for me it didn't work.

I think we should switch to a six-day week (just drop Wednesday). Two day weekend, four day week:


We could go partial French Revolutionary, and have 36 10-day weeks at +3-1+3-3, plus an intercalary partial week at -5 or -6. Since we're not [all] French, the days of the week would be renamed as follows: Workday, Bluesday, Grindsday, Humpday, Schmerkday, Slogsday, Highday, Lazyday, Gamesday, and Chillsday. This would be referred to as the "Bactrian week", and the previous +5-2 week a "Dromedary week". The partial week shall be "Festivus Week".

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.



I don't know why, but the idea of just dropping a day, though plausible, cracked me up.

Even if you have a 3 day weekend, you still need to have proper long blocks off work. I used to take days off on Friday or Monday to get longer weekends in lieu of taking whole weeks. It's nice to have a long weekend but I found since taking more longer blocks (week or more) it's a lot better for you to fully switch off work (usually takes a few days to switch off completely).

It's sometimes nice to have 3, 4, or even just 2 1/2 day weekends if you want to go somewhere for a weekend trip. Which I do sometimes. But unless I have specific plans for the weekend, I'd rather have any days in excess of the usual two available for use for longer trips.

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.

Three is too short. Try five?

I'm getting voted down but I'm serious... it is a cultural choice to feed people by paying them for work. And so work must be procured and time occupied by what is essentially walking a treadmill until the rent pops out.

That may be how you feel about it, but the employers feel differently. They wouldn't hire and pay someone unless they felt that the person was providing some value.

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.

I'm in favour of automating away 100% of the donkey-work. Slaves are an evil thing for a culture to have; robots aren't.

In my business, if time is just occupied by a worker, they loose a job. Their job depends on them doing something that pays for their income.

Then they are probably doing a great if slightly panicked job of pretending to be "doing something" (as in "don't just sit there, do something!!") every hour of the workday. Because their rents and ramen depend on convincing some guy who grumps at people on news.ycombinator.com that a task which will naturally have surges and lulls consists of continuous machine-like effort.

They can't pretend to produce the final product in my shed manufacturing business. Their rents and ramen depends on them filling orders that customers paid for, not the grump who retorts to nitpickers on HN.

Whats your point exactly?

Honest pay for honest work.

The consequences would be terrible! We would have to wait 18 months between each iteration of Iphone instead of 12. Amazon would deliver at day+2. Uber Eats would answer: "No slave available. Sorry, you will have to cook".

Simply unacceptable !!!

Now go back to work 5 days a week!

Oh my god yes. Actually we should work 6 days a week, imagine how fast the new Iphone would come out!!

Have you considered what would happen if we added meth to the drinking water? People wouldn't sleep and could work twice as long!

Do you want reavers? Because that's how you get reavers.

I thought we had already five that by making coffee mainstream?

Did we just seriously compare coffee to meth?

not the greatest source but still informative


I wouldn't doubt this idea has come up at least once in some shareholder meeting.

It does. I think apenwarr has a good outlook on this:

"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.


If only hiring 20% more people would mean 20% more efficiency we would have a lot fewer problems.

Sure, but there are a lot of efficiency killers to look for before you need to worry about individual hours worked.

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 ;)

Didn't they use meth during WW2 on the russian front?

Is it a good thing?

I'm pretty sure parent posts are sarcastic.

Are you claiming a 4-day work week would result in less productivity? The article makes a good case for the opposite.

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?

If someone is overworked their productivity decreases. If you start cutting hours their productivity will increase up to a point, when they become underworked.

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.

Why cant things be more flexible, eg. you have a 7 day workweek but personally you only work 4 days?

This seems like a good idea especially given more automation and more higher level jobs.

Because most jobs require correlation of schedules between roles, or suppliers and vendors, a minimum viable number of staff, or deadlines which need to be met. A cashier, for instance, can't simply decide not to come in to work for half the week, or to only work overnight when it's easier. Everyone would do that, and the business would lose money.

>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.

But many don't. Many things are planned on the scale of quarters, not hours. In that case, it doesn't actually matter what hours people work, as long as things are done by the deadline.

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.

I could hide from the clients for weeks! Weeks I say! "Oh, sorry, our schedules really only overlap for a day and I'm booked solid. How about next month?"

I have this mentality.

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.

Everyone should work _7_ days a week. iPhones will come out every year instead of every 18 months! Amazon would have same-day delivery! Uber Eats would answer: "your food is on its way!"

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.)

As father of two: no, please no.

As father of five: yes, please yes.

I don't get this mentality at all. The number one thing I wish I had was more of in life was quality daytime hours to spend with my family. It's why I have kids. I've been spoiled by paternity leave for our new little one, and I don't know how I'll cope with having to go back to work.

People and their needs are different is that so difficult?

Nah. Having kids is a choice. If you're going to view/treat them as a burden, just don't do it.

I'd wager the GP was joking. I do get his point though. Some weekends are such hard work that I look forward to Monday for a break.

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).

Are you me in fifteen years?

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.

2 for the kids, 3 for the parents. ;)

There shouldn't be weekends. People should be allowed to take any 3 days off during the week. This will reduce unemployment and increase productivity.

Things like weekends and holidays are, in some cases, the only thing that let people who do certain types of work have any time off work to begin with.

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.

> Things like weekends and holidays are, in some cases, the only thing that let people who do certain types of work have any time off work to begin with.

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.

> but some people are not in a position to quit/negotiate and have to put up with asshole-bosses all the time.

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!

You can negotiate yourself onto the street, I suppose the fresh air could be considered a positive life change.

A fresh perspective opens up opportunities.

Or gives you nothing to work with. If your only skill was "working at a gas station" and you got fired from a gas station, you better hope that there are more opportunities for working at another gas station, cause you aren't taking a "sabbatical" from minimum wage to enhance your skills to move up.

Really? How are they going to afford to do that?

Sometimes they should ask how they could afford not to.

France tried to reduce working hours to 35 hours, hoping to create jobs : it didn't go well

France had other issues though (iirc the employee protections are really strong so it discourages hiring in case you get a bad hire).

The problem is that it's virtually impossible to do a controlled experiment.

It didn't create more jobs but what about the other effects? Reduced stress on employees and increased productivity during working hours?

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