Are we to believe that a 100 year old bizops practice is the optimal solution?
I honestly think that the main reason it's (nearly) impossible to implement something new, is because the old practice and mentality is so ingrained and etched in management, they'll feel cheated if the need to pay the same for less days (even though hours may be the same).
They'd rather have people around for as long as possible, doing 70%, than having them less but delivering 90%. The same type of management that values facetime and butts in seats over nearly anything else.
Ok, then why isn't EU a Mecca of enterprise and innovation? Seems like EU is largely technologically stagnant compared to the US despite tons of safety nets at every level.
1. The US has almost 330 million people; Europe has 740 million - but we're spread over so many different countries / policies / cultures etc. Hell, eastern Europe was locked out up until 30 years ago, and didn't stat to see industrial prosperity until 20 years ago.
2. USA had a massive advantage after WW2, while Europe was still in shambles. The rebuilding of Europe wasn't really completed until the 50s and 60s, at a time when the US experienced its golden age of industrial development.
3. More rich people and more investors compared to Europe, from earlier on, coupled with excellent schools that could produce and feed talent into the industry.
Sure, we here in Europe have had excellent schools, but nowhere near the financial backings. In many countries, financial backing of tech and companies have been a gov / state affair, which in turn can be extremely limited compared to private investors.
Needless to say, Europe was it its peak at the time, and has only declined since.
Excuses are easy to come by - root causes are more useful to examine.
(I have no opinion on grandparent; I am reacting only to your choice of the term "3rd-world country".)
1. It’s an order of magnitude easier to fire people in the US Vs the EU. That means American employers are more willing to take chances on people, ideas and growth. EU small business are family run for a reason.
2. It’s an order of magnitude easier to shut down a business in the US Vs the EU. So, again, an entrepreneur can take more chances in the US.
The EU favors big businesses that are hand-in-glove with the government. The US does so to a much smaller extent - smaller players and individuals have a fighting chance. Most US mega businesses today were tiny not too long ago (e.g. almost all of tech).
The healthcare system in Germany is that the monthly insurance fee is like 15% of the wage of an employee and the employer has to pay half of the fee. If you switch from being employed directly to freelancing, you have no employer, and you have to pay at least twice as much for health care insurance. Twice as much, if you are lucky, since freelancer do not get a wage, the calculation is changed from 15% of the wage, to 15% of all income. In the worst case if you are a fire guy and have a lot of investments you can go from paying 50€/month for insurance to paying 700€/month with the same income, just because you work without an employer. (with public insurance, private insurances do their own fee calculations)
Basically, as soon as you do something non-traditional, you lose the safety nets
Instead I'd just like to know: why do you think enterprise and innovation is more valuable than you or a member of your family needing an operation not bankrupting you?
There are more important things than work. In the UK we value the NHS so much it featured in the Olympics opening ceremony - a segment the NBC refused to air - because it literally keeps us alive better than anything else.
Does this mean it takes us longer to save up for our dream home because we're being taxed more heavily? Sure. But we don't care, because we realise that balance is more valuable.
I'm genuinely curious: is this attitude seen as eccentric or naive outside of these shores?
US cherry-picking on- and intelligence inference in EU economic actors is way higher than the very meager reverse. If a EU company becomes successful or strategically interesting, it will typically be bought out by the US to be assimilated or disrupted.
In software US befitted immensely from a more homogeneous home market at a time where internationalization was very far from trivial and higher costs of software development favored a more coarse business granularity (in the EU a 'large' company starts at 251 employees).
All these taken together means the EU software market is disproportionately skewed towards bespoke B2B software development and embedded systems linked to more traditional industries such as automotive.
If by "a Mecca of enterprise and innovation", you mean "has lots of unicorns", I think this is a poor proxy for that metric—in fact, the opposite may be true as large players can often work against smaller innovators entering markets.
In fact, the EU is over regulated as a rule and discourages risk taking. For example GDPR compliance cost.
Also, the US is richer, so all startups want to conquer it as it's primary market. This is a positive feedback loop because talented people want to move to the US to make it big.
In Austria/Germany the average tech gig is hire and fire. If some managers sees that your velocity in Jira is lower than the rest of the team for too long you'll be given your notice period and let go easy peasy, no sweat for the company.
To quote on of my ex German boss after he fired a colleague of mine "software engineers are dime a dozen, recruiters flood me with their resumes every day, I can have someone from Poland in his place next week".
This was a F500 company.
Clearly not, as many people disagree with you.
> they don't want the workers to know there are viable alternatives to working at $JOB, because it makes their (mgmt) life harder.
Every decent tech professional is fully aware that they have the option of leaving. Management don't want you encouraging people to leave, sure.
Where I work, we have a Slack channel dedicated to this kind of talk, and most managers are in it. It’s been just fine.
The 5 day work week has a historical basis and it has nothing to do with 'keeping you from a side job', nor do most managers concern themselves with these kinds of issues whatsoever - other than leaking company IP or working for a competitor etc. - but those are knowledge worker issues that having nothing to do with most jobs.
The conspiracy theory doesn't even make sense considering the vast majority of jobs are things like: 'truck driver' 'school teacher' 'nurse' 'construction worker' 'accountant' 'retail banker' etc..
My other favorite joke of his: "Rice is great when you're hungry and want to eat like 2000 of something"
Also it may be driven by fears of losing member support, as happened when they supported the clinton health care reform in the 90's
No, it really is not this at all.
The 5 day work week is a result of a reduction from the 6 day work week which and it's mostly derived as a standoff between organised labour and the capital class. It's the big entente.
EDIT: I just interpret it as a way to express the opinion that employers usually care about their buisness more than their workers.
A) decrease work hours for employees
or B) make them work more for less, effectively preventing them from doing what OP said
It's not always that there is intention to suppress workers, it's just a natural consequence of traditional business.
Read any European socialist work from the 30s to the 70s and you'll have plenty of quotes to work with. Raoul Vaneigem, Guy Debord, &c.
I wish there were a site like HN focused on technology and tech industry developments but without the Bay Area intellectual blind spots and biases.
Seriously though, while we can run for 12 hours a day it turned out to be detrimental to do repetitive factory work for that long. That's how we eventually settled on a 40 hour week. But for mentally demanding work this doesn't seem to work, we just can't concentrate that long. People distracting each other when one of them reaches their limit, or people doing various unproductive things (including browsing various websites) seems more harmful to productivity than just leaving earlier. Having more time for creative hobbies and creative exploration also seems obviously useful for knowledge workers
> In 1983, the 61-year-old potato farmer won the inaugural Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon, a distance of 875 kilometres (544 mi). The race was run between what were then Australia's two largest Westfield shopping centres: Westfield Parramatta, in Sydney, and Westfield Doncaster, in Melbourne. Young showed up to compete in overalls and work boots, without his dentures (later claiming they rattled when he ran). He ran at a slow, loping pace, and trailed the pack by a large margin at the end of the first day. While the other competitors stopped to sleep for six hours, however, Young kept running. He ran continuously for five days, taking the lead during the first night and eventually winning by ten hours. Before running the race, he had told the press that he had previously run for two to three days straight rounding up sheep in gumboots.
Over the past 100 years a tiny minority were doing any kind of knowledge work. Do you want to stick with an optimization for manual labor at your tech company?
9-5/5 is less bad for this kind of work than the Chinese 9-9/6... but it's still bad.
It's the same in the Middle East, often worse (12+ hours for 6 days, maybe a few less on Fridays).
Also curious, what if they weren’t paid salary but paid hourly in this study? Would they be okay with more time off and less money?
Digital stuff is weird because the traditional paradigm of work is: someone goes in coal mine and mines C clumps of coal then gets paid for that because the coal had some tangible value.
Technology is hard to conceptualise because a lot of it is not tangible or perhaps even wasteful.
I would argue from a management prospective the programmer hours are very much like coal mines, time goes in and features come out. The big difference is that you can sell the software more than once.
Many social/cultural issues. A background of poverty adds to it. "Idling" at home or not hustling all the time is seen as undesirable or lazy, or even sinful. Spending time with the family is not valued that much, it's a waste of time! It's the wife's job to raise kids at home, and the husband's job to make money for them. If they're living together (as in if the husband's not in another city/country for work) they might go out 1-2 times a week to a shopping mall or KFC/McDonalds or a drive/stroll.
Kids and relatives usually go into the same job as each other (inheriting shops or manual labor). White collar/desk job workers also hustle as much as they can, usually working for over 8 hours every day, maybe taking a break on Fridays. Saturdays off are rare, and only in big companies with foreign (Western) employees who will of course not put up with this shit. Only government jobs and banks and big corporations might give a 2 day weekend.
I’ve seen instances of western companies run by by-the-books business folks with no concept of the value a “learning culture” and how it can add to future growth.
Then again, not all people will use their time wisely and they simple stand around and chat all day.
You either own the business, are chummy with the owners or their chums, or you generally remain where you were when you joined.
The concepts of personal growth and rewards based on merit are usually limited to Western-style organizations for employees with Western-style education etc.
Many middle/lower class people have been working every day for literally decades for less than US$1000 a month without ever seeing a raise.
Also you can be fired for publicly complaining about an employer in at-will states, at the very least.
On the other hand, I have two concerns:
- on the weeks where I took Friday off for travelling, I did not complete as much work as on a normal week. The output was smaller, and I had to squeeze more things into the four days which was just excruciating.
- I read about a poll in my home country where 74% of people said they will never work again if they had enough money, and only 16% said they will never quit their job even if they're rich. So perhaps ideas like 4 day work week and UBI works for those 16%, but not for the majority?
Even if this change was to be reversed by the new government I don't think I would go back to working full time: not only I'm less stressed and more productive (per hour worked), but a more interesting change is that you stop defining yourself by your profession. You are not a programmer, you code to pay the rent and are all the other things you do in the four days you have left.
(I'm using a throwaway, because it doesn't take long to figure out what the limit income is and derive roughly how much I make per hour)
I'm in Norway, and have heard the exact same things. People that turn down extra work, because they're certain that the said OT pay is getting bumped into the next tax bracket, and they'll net LESS than if they had not worked at all.
It's probably the most stupid tax system in the developed world.
22 hours of free childcare a week is worth ~£9k a year post-tax. If either you or your partner earn a penny over £100k then you're no longer eligible for any of your children. So with two kids in nursery a penny pay rise might lead to a £30k pre-tax pay cut.
Means-tested only makes sense if you have a progression instead of a hard cut-off, otherwise it creates these pits of despair.
It's similar with welfare in Germany: if you have an extremely low-paying job, welfare will "top up" your income up to the same level as someone with no job. So until you break even, working an extra hour or taking a job that pays slightly more is economically pointless because it has no effect on your bottom line: every extra Euro you earn gets deducted from the welfare benefits. This encourages undeclared work, losing the government money via taxes.
> 22 hours of free childcare a week is worth ~£9k a year post-tax. If either you or your partner earn a penny over £100k then you're no longer eligible for any of your children. So with two kids in nursery a penny pay rise might lead to a £30k pre-tax pay cut.
Means testing is usually fairly expensive to administer too. It's more political point scoring than anything else.
Another way to look at this is that it's providing more to the poorer families who need it more by cutting away costs for richer families.
That a single £100k salary is enough to maintain a household of two kids is neither here nor there (and also depends very much on where you live).
- bad for social mobility
- incentive to work off the books
Also I think that my calculations make the break-even point between the two different regimes a little over 100k.
In Germany you can end up in a similar situation, though I think the gap is smaller.
In Germany we have a very different culture. You come at eight or nine and leave at four or five, you have your break but otherwise you're basically supposed to work. I have a hard time believing that cutting an entire day out is going to increase productivity a lot.
Our company is in the same region of Germany and we independently started experimenting with our work time but our focus was employee well-being via stress reduction and encouraging our employees to use the extra free time for self-care.
We ended up with a flexible 25-40 hour work week (or similar 60-ish % adjusted for non-40 hour positions). The goal is to keep each employee's work hours as close to 25 as possible but allow for "overtime" (up to the full 40 hours) if necessary. If we notice employees are working "overtime" over a longer period of time, we rebalance the work load or adjust timelines as possible to get them back to 25.
Despite the reduction of work hours by 30-40% the effective work output only shrunk by 10-20%. But the real benefits are social.
I think some label that temporary boost in reaction to novelty as the "Hawthorne Effect":
Why not just give everyone an extra random day off a year. At the beginning of the year there is a draw to pick the next random day off from the work calendar. Make it into a public holiday. Random Day!
I'll gladly switch to any job that offers a 4 day work week. It's one of the best perks.
As someone with ADHD, work days are entirely spent getting work done. There isn't any extra slack or allotment for personal tasks. They're 100% owned by the employer.
Weekends offer barely enough time to catch up with chores. There isn't enough time both to catch up and still have fun. I use vacation time to catch up on chores, so that's spent too.
I don't want to spend most of my life working. I feel like a slave, and now my youth is almost gone.
I don't care if it's a 10hr/4day schedule or a 9hr/4day 8hr/4day with less pay, I want an extra day for myself. I'm an excellent engineer aside from my ADHD quirks, and I'll go anywhere that offers this where I live.
My own startup (I almost have the capital for a long runway) will be 9hr/4day.
Fuck everything about 5 day work weeks.
I've now been on methylphenidate (also known as ritalin) for about a month and good god that has made a difference for me. When I get home I can get right into hobby projects or chores instead of just deflating on the couch until bedtime.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, have you tried looking into medication? I know a lot of people are vehemently against medicating ADHD issues, I was pretty much one of them. The thing is you can totally try it out and if it doesn't work for you or has side-effects you'd rather not deal with you can stop easily enough.
I've heard plenty of ritalin horror stories, but a lot of those start making sense once you read the list of side effects. You need to be somewhat lucky to not be too affected by them. If you are there's other medication that can be tried.
I guess my point in a nutshell is don't suffer if you don't have to. I've spent 25 years suffering with my inability to choose what to focus on, and a simple pill has let me trade that for cold hands and a restless leg. I'd take that deal any day. Speak to your GP and ask what your options are. Worst case you're no worse off than you are now.
There do exist long-acting versions and I might try those in the future, but for now this is already pretty damn amazing.
As far as I know those are commonly comorbid with ADD/ADHD. I'd get pretty anxious and stressed by having the feeling of not working hard enough while simultaneously being unable to work harder in any case. You'll definitely want to talk to your doctor. Mention that you might like to see if medicating the ADD/ADHD helps with your symptoms.
Of course this is going to differ by country. In my case I had to try therapy first before medicating was an option they would consider, but that's hardly a show stopper in most cases. and who knows, maybe therapy is the perfect solution in your individual case.
Funny that this is the assumption. I think they would be more likely to work since they are not bothering with the daily commute to work.
But on the rare occasions I try to get ahold of people who are strictly salary on these Friday’s can be a challenge. But it’s usually not a huge issue either. In an emergency we can get ahold of someone who can help.
What happens if your work is complete before Friday during non-Summer hours?
They're not really working (many in the warehouse would walk around to avoid suspicion before meeting in a different aisle to chat), so letting them leave would cost nothing but gain employee happiness.
If the results were truly as remarkable as the article is making them out to be, why not implement it all year?
It also seems like one of those things that are near impossible to reverse if you make them the norm and things goes sideways, so I can understand they want to be cautious.
It's nice. Nobody ever does anything on Friday anyway, and a three-day weekend lets you actually go somewhere or get a project done. Moreover, when you have a weekday off regularly, you can actually go to the post office or the bank or all the other places that are only open when working people are working and can't go.
It's a little silly to only do in the summer, but it's still a nice perk.
You can see a little bit of this if you visit because you'll experience endless paperwork for everything, but this is only one layer of a very complex onion. I wouldn't say this is all bad, but it has problems.
You have the option of being able to decouple your hours worked from your accomplishments. You get to choose whether or not you take the day off because you crushed it yesterday, or you can continue grinding it out hardcore for months just so you can take a few extended breaks in the near future.
You are in control of the dial that dictates when you work.
So invest in better FAQs and diagnosis tools and in procedures to reduce incidents, instead of trying to throw more bodies at the problem, because you don't have more bodies. Customers will be happier about getting actual answers sooner than they otherwise would.
This isn't a perk, any more than weekends or healthcare or market compensation is a "perk." It's an investment in getting better results for your business and for your customers, through making sure you have healthy and productive employees.
No, they don't. You are bootstrapping. Your customer doesn't even rely their business on your solution.
Even large companies doesn't do support. Who do you call if your Windows is crashing? What if there is a power outage, do you call your provider asap? Exactly. Customers are used to what you let them to use to. They need to be sure you are aware of the outage before they notice it. You know you are doing a good job if they don't have to contact you.
The sources also mention better use of meeting time via an increase in shorter meetings and teleconferences.
mo-th twice, then 6 days off
we-sa twice, then 5 days off
fr-tu once, then 6 days off
Nobody works at 100% productivity all the time, but if it only about a month with a big incentive, they can tap into their reserves and improve productivity for the prospect of more free time.
Social experiments are very difficult because the observed subjects know about the experiment.
That said, Keynes predicted we’d have a 20 hour work week by now in the US, and when exactly does that happen.
The penalization or reward curve seems to be highly asymmetric. If you work hard, you're barely getting rewarded - it's what is expected. But if you slack even a bit, you'll get penalized harshly. This leads to fear-driven management, where employees will put up with all kinds of bullshit, as well as just looking like they're working, in fear of getting sacked or limiting their career opportunities.
Check out the Appalachians if you like to live in a misty postcard, and the stereotypes are largely false. Your neighbors are more likely to be artists or organic farmers than the characters from Deliverance. (I used to live in Asheville which is moderately expensive but you don't have to go far from town and it gets cheap.)
So now we have people coughing their heads off at work and spreading flu everywhere. How efficient can you be I wonder when you are sick? Yet people seem to take pride in the fact that they are still working while battling an illness.
I'm honestly surprised they tried this in Japan which has a super rigid work structure.
That said, given the opportunity, I believe I would much prefer to work four days a week if the pay was adequate to support myself comfortably. I much prefer the idea of having a job to support my lifestyle and hobbies, rather than my life being by job. I've always liked the idea of having a day-ff mid-week, we used to do this as school children and it made the week a less of a drag (you were always looking forward to the "weekend" being at most one more day away).
What kind of roles are you talking about? The food service workers gotta keep flipping burgers all week while you eat out on your midweek weekend? You sure that won't affect productivity/caring-about-health-code-standards? As somebody who has seen the actions of disgruntled line-cooks behind the scenes, I'd pay extra to have my food prepared by a relatively content worker -- even for selfish reasons.
> That said, given the opportunity, I believe I would much prefer to work four days a week if the pay was adequate to support myself comfortably.
Of course you would, you're a human.
> content worker -- even for selfish reasons.
Of course, but where productivity doesn't increase significantly from having additional time spent not working, there will simply be less work done - i.e. people will be paid less. I don't know whether your burger flipper will be more disgruntled from working more hours a week or getting paid less and working less.
I highly suspect that such trade-offs are privileges of those who get paid more, hence have enough excess income that they can take a day off without significant detriment or their companies are in a position to swallow those costs. And it's not even that simple in the second case, one of my old employers made several billion dollars profit every year, but were still making engineers redundant in order to reduce engineering costs and increase investor gains. Microsoft seems to be in a position where they can just swallow such costs and not worry investors, even if productivity didn't increase significantly. Even it's ability to do such experiments is owing to it's size.
> Of course you would, you're a human.
It's not quite that simple - I personally have life-long goals that I would like to work more on. After speaking to people from a wide walk of life, I don't believe everybody has such passions for their side projects, or their goals simply benefit from more cash (i.e. holidays, family, expenses, etc). For some people their work is their goal.
I'm also willing to take a 1/5th cut, as long as I can still make the rent. Not everybody would be willing to say that, especially if you find yourself closer to the breadline.
The audience here on HN is likely to be middle class and above... My point is that before protesting nationwide for a day to be cut from the working week, we should also consider our lesser paid equals. Everybody's case and reasoning will be different.
I don't believe that productivity in the service industry doesn't significantly decrease with number of hours worked. I get that with some work you end up mulling over it while you're away and coming up with a solution to a problem in a way that doesn't apply nearly as often for a kitchen environment, but I've seen workers who felt they weren't getting enough time off show up drunk, take 45 minute breaks without clearing it with management, not bother with proper food handling procedures (e.g. putting meat products in ice and water before throwing them in the walk-in so that time spent between holding temperatures would be minimised and bacteria wouldn't grow in the
meat we served to customers), etc. Even as somebody who tried to stay on the ball, I would be slipping up and making dumb mistakes at the end of a 14 hour shift in a hot kitchen without enough time for adequate hydration. Work two of those in a row and I doubt you'll be at peak efficiency, either. When I worked in food service workers tended to be asking for less hours, not more. We'd bribe each other to take shifts. That doesn't mean we didn't want more pay, it's just that the bottom feeders of society also value their free time. Being paid less means that each hour you sell you get less for. Selling your reading time for $8.50 an hour feels way worse than selling it for $50.00 an hour; at $50.00 you feel like you're building towards something, at $8.50 you feel like you're pissing away your life for practically nothing.
> It's not quite that simple - I personally have life-long goals that I would like to work more on. After speaking to people from a wide walk of life, I don't believe everybody has such passions for their side projects, or their goals simply benefit from more cash (i.e. holidays, family, expenses, etc). For some people their work is their goal.
I get what you're saying here. My point with the "you're human" line was that you were making an argument about the service industry employees based on how we as a society could most efficiently capture their labor value, and then stating your own desires for work-life-balance in more human terms.
I still don't think that we can blanket say: "less time worked is beneficial to all the people". I think people need the ability to choose based on their goals and situation (and not be forced into a decision).
This certainly gets quite complicated quite quickly. In the UK for example, we've had zero hour contracts and apprenticeships for quite some time. In some cases they've allowed people greater flexibility around their personal situation and in others they have been used as a tool to pay people below minimum wage.
> [..] we as a society could most efficiently capture their
> labor value, and then stating your own desires for
> work-life-balance in more human terms.
Sure. But this work-life balance is also reflective of a realistic input into society. If given the choice, I would accept full pay and work zero days (and some have chosen this life-style with a social support systems). As a society and a company we need to maximize productivity per hour - and part of that equation could be less hours worked, but it could also not be.
However, if your work does not really require you to be in the office, then I see no issue with people working even two days from home.
What I feel is that in order to get to the office, a lot of work needs to be done before you can get there, and it is an expense (in terms of time as well as money) that the employee bears.
I think we need to realize that we are in the 21st century, and that most things can be resolved by video-conferencing and email. We have so many tools for remote communication, and they are really very good.
It is high time, we took full advantage of them, and give people less stress in their lives, and more time to spend with their families and developing themselves.
People CHOOSE to work ALL week, only closing for a few hours just for Friday prayers because of social norms.
Expat workers in the Middle East get only a couple consecutive weeks off per year to go visit their families.
In developed societies, I think even keeping it a 2-day weekend and allowing employees to have at least one day of their choice to work from home would be great.
if there's going to be a "new default" I think the 3 day weekend makes the most sense, or a Wednesday off scheme where you work 2 sets of 2 days.
Here is an article about how working less is a solution to just about everything
I personally have been working 4 days a week or less for more than a decade already. Loving it. Does it improve my productivity? Why the heck should I care! It improves my life.
And this doesn't even claim to be scientific, AFAICT.
But it does report that we don't have to make hard choices. We can pay less and get more. You can see why this message travels fast.
And some other people message me on Saturday morning and again, that is an employee but the good part is that for the people I know, they don't look unhappy or maybe they're just used to that work hours... I don't think I'll want to work like that if I'm an employee.
When I was an employee for the one year in my entire life, I asked for overtime (I was the only person getting it in a company of about a dozen people) and usually worked 9-10 hours for 5 days.
They don't show how they measured their productivity exactly. I also don't think a month trial is good enough to derive the conclusion. Furthermore, there is a chance that other variables affected the result. It's difficult to come to the conclusion through this kind of uncontrollable experiment where you cannot control the variables and constants.
Initially I thought it would be a special "hobby day" but the reality of being a parent took over.
That's great that you're proud of how much you work. Along with their work, some other people are proud of their parenting, their hobbies, their friendships, etc.
People can choose to work more or less. But if someone chooses to work less, he forfeits the right to complain about being paid less and being promoted slower compared to people who work more.
The proposed four day work week would increase this disparity between hard workers and "default workers" who work as much as they're told to work, then do other things, some of which you just mentioned. Many people already find vaguely unjust, though it isn't.