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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.

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