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How a four-day workweek works, from the companies pulling it off (wsj.com)
255 points by lxm 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 261 comments



I am a firm believer that I would get more work done with a 4-day workweek than I currently do with my 5-day workweek. I already spend an embarrassing amount of time slacking off daily, it's not like I'm pressed for time to get stuff done in the office. I could easily meet my weekly objectives in 32 hours rather than 40, and having 3-day weekends every weekend I think would be incredible for my mental health and mood. And when I'm in a better mood, I get more work done!

One thing I feel like a lot of people don't realize is just how big a difference it is to go from a 5-day week to a 4-day week. Sure, it's "just one day" but when you think about the ratio between time-on and time-off, the shift becomes a lot more dramatic. 5-on, 2-off means you spend over twice as many days working as not working. 4-on, 3-off means you spend a nearly equal number of days on each. It's just one day of difference, but it feels like a major, major shift.


If you spend only ~75% of your time working (i.e. you can finish your work in 32 hours instead of 40), does this imply that in the event your company switched to a 4 day workweek you would be busy 100% of the time?

It seems more likely that people would retain a similar ratio of slacking to working.

As an aside, how does "I finish my work in 32 hours" even work? What does that mean? Are most developers out there getting paint-by-numbers printouts they need to color in and then they're all done for the week? Almost all of my roles in a professional capacity have required self-starting, and the project life cycles are much longer than a day/week such that there is literally always work to do.

If you're building a house and you're done nailing in shingles by noon you don't go home and come back tomorrow, you go put up sheetrock or install bathroom tiles. The "I finish my work in a few hours" that I see on HN and Twitter must be extremely poorly managed teams or people that are leaving a lot of work on the rest of their teammates.


A lot of work, maybe more than any creative work, requires long breaks for the best output to be created. When you're well rested, the work often comes easily and you're hungry from it. When you're tired, it's a slog to get going and you'll procrastinate your time away. The next day is even worse.

I've managed work in software, marketing, robotics and construction. In every field I have had to send people home to rest who were doing more harm than good with their tired decision-making. Doing the work that was set for the day and going home to rest is a great productivity and morale boost, in my opinion.

Individual work capacity varies, but in my experience most people overestimate theirs by a lot.


> A lot of work, maybe more than any creative work, requires long breaks for the best output to be created.

There are many counter examples against this statement. Stephen King writes every day with no breaks, not even on Sundays.


From a recent interview he seems to write 2 to 4 hours per day, every day. That adds up to anywhere between 15 and 30 hours per week.

Personal work capacity will vary. Who knows, maybe he'd write better books if he wrote less? We'll likely never know.


First, best work =/= more work. There are middling returns but you will do more work with more time, at least if you are in execution mode.

Second, creatives have to consider the long term as well. Burnout and writer's block are real phenomenon.

Lastly, yes. Some people are just built different. Maybe you min max exercise and diet and can operate longer than an equally skilled peer. Maybe you have less family responsibilities and truly enjoy your work. These factors tend to target the average, not the top.


> It seems more likely that people would retain a similar ratio of slacking to working.

Got it in one. Humans are creatures of habit. You (yes you, oh 10x HN reader) reading this may actually be hyperaware enough to analyse your weeks work and stuff it into 4 days, but I strongly suspect the vast majority of workers would coast the same amount (whatever that number may be) regardless of days worked.


Really depends on your lens here. You calling it "slacking" implies that you see this as purposefully avoiding work. A more optimistic lens suggests that it is mental burnout and general loss of productivity.

Either way, no one is expecting 100% productivity. Or at least, they shouldn't. The question is more on a long range than week by week. Does an employee with a 4 day work week require less days off? Will the motivated ones spend more time on growth with added free time? Will retention increase? These are less opaque factors that should be considered, even if modern corporate culture doesn't value them.


The argument is that if people work fewer hours per week, then they will spend less time slacking off. And the numbers so far show that to be true.


Over the short term.

My concern is that people are consciously avoiding slacking off during the trial period but will later return to their long-run productivity once they grow accustomed to 32 hour weeks.

The other concern I have with these studies, is that these companies appear to be overstaffed in the first place. While we all have some amount of slack during our days, I doubt anyone in my team has enough slack available to get the same amount of work done in 4 days.

I’d want to see a long term study that involves lean companies and people in leas-creative roles before buying into the hype.


Well in order to study it companies need to implement it so I’m fine with that lol


I feel the same. If I work 5 days I'd feel like I'm wasting so much time, when realistically I can do the same amount of work in 4 days. I'm working as a developer so it's also about retaining my attention span. I just can't do it for 5 days straight anymore.

My perfect 4-day workweek is having the Wednesday off so I have a 'mini-weekend' in my week. I only ever have to work 1 more day until I have some time to clear my head, make some music, etc. It feels like a more healthy work/life balance. And I feel sharper after a day off.


This was true for me, I was more productive at 4-days/week, Mon-Thu. I tried having Wed off for the reason you described, but it was hard to get into the flow, both at work and in my home life. Turns out 4 days in a row for work and 3 days in a row for home was actually better for both work productivity and personal satisfaction.


I would love to have Wed/Fri as no meeting days, so I could choose which one to take off depending on how I’m feeling, what the current work streams look like, and personal plans.

A three day weekend is great for a trip. Hump day off is great for a break. Either could be good for an extra day of big exercise/recovery or deep cleaning my house.

And then if working on either day, I get a full day of heads-down time.


Yes. I have tried both Friday off and Wednesday off and the latter is better. Fridays at work are more relaxed anyway, so there is less value in skipping them.


Same for me. With Mon-Tues work, traffic, meetings, kids' drop off and pickup gets me drained. If there were wednesday break it'd be great. Mon-Tues hustle, a mid week break and then wrap up things on Thu-Fri.


So you're working 3.5 days a week? This seems to go against the entire point of 4 solid days > 5 marginal days, which is how you're describing Fridays.


So?


My team currently does Monday through Thursday, although we've done Tuesday through Friday before too. M-Th has aligned much better with other teams in the company. It was never great when someone discovered something late of Friday or over the weekend and our team was the only one there not on Monday to help address it.

That said, I wish we could go to MT and ThF schedule. Only ever have 2 days in a row with out a break would seem pretty magical to me. I'd either had yesterday off, or tomorrow - always. Fridays are such a slower day though that I feel like I miss out on less than I would on Wednesdays.


Same on both counts. MT_TF would be cool, but MTWT has big 'economies of scale' benefits and also reduces unexpected "asynchronous" PTO that we get every time someone wants to take a long weekend. Essentially, almost all of our "working days" should then be working days when we're all here.

Ideally though the 4-day program shouldn't be a thing only for specific teams because the "that team isn't here" side-eye quickly promotes resentment of the "lobsters pulling other lobsters back into the pot" variety.

Teams that need coverage during the full work-week (such as B2B support) should normalize having two schedules which overlap, just as B2C companies have weekend shifts (they don't just force people to work 7 days to achieve this).


Being fully remote gives me 6-8 hours back each week because I don't have to commute. It has been huge for my mental health, mostly because I'm able to get more sleep.


10-12 hours back a week here. Life is so much better.


Same, it has always blown my mind how I'm consistently one of the most productive members on any team I've been on yet I know how much time I spend just idling. It's the spurts of activity where I get my work done and time off 100% correlates with the intensity and length of those spurts/flow states.


I used to work manual labour in the reforestation industry and there were two main schedules we would work: 4-and-1s (criminal) and 3-and-1s (manageable). That change in ratio really adds up.

Sadly, management mostly worked us 4-and-1s because, despite the fact that each day we were less productive, over 3 months more trees would get planted in less time.

4-and-1s of gruelling manual labour inevitably leads to burn out. It did every season without fail, and we all expected it. Burnout was a built-in condition. The key here is that labour tolerated it only because the work was seasonal. There was always an end in sight. And most folks spent the off-season on a beach somewhere it was cheap enough to live off the earnings, surfing and eating tacos all day (or the equivalent activity).

The salaryperson should not accept burn out as a built-in; we are labourers for life and we need to learn how to find dignity in such a reality. When I first transitioned to a salaried worker, I brought the burn out mentality to my work and had a lot of pride in that. And though full of bride, the burnt out husk that I as had little dignity.

Ratios that allow for more life and less labour is that dignity.


> I already spend an embarrassing amount of time slacking off daily, it's not like I'm pressed for time to get stuff done in the office.

Just because that is true for you doesn't mean it is true in general. Like, imagine a surgeon -- would he/she spend 8 hours a week slacking? Or a radiologoist -- can he/she read the same number of slides in 32 than 40? Or a barrista at starbucks?

Also, if you worked 32 hours, would you still slack off? Is there a reason to expect that your slack/work ratio would change? You claim you'd be "in a better mood" -- but as humans we tend to adjust to the circumstances we are in. So I'm not sure that would be the case long term.


Do you have any idea how much break time surgeons take? Tons of them work 3day weeks because it’s more efficient. The rest of their time is either at home or “in clinic” doing busywork.

https://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/3-day-work-week-wit...

I suspect you’ve pulled “surgeon” from you-know-where on account of it being a high-status, high-value role. But don’t bring that baggage into the conversation.


I think you were a little harsher than necessary, but this is a good point. Surgeons aren't doing surgery 40 hours a week. They'd be making tons of mistakes if they did that and they'd be getting burned out. The last surgery I had the doc only did ops on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In many ways it's a good analogy to writing code 40 hours a week. It takes high concentration and the quality of output drops heavily when you're tired or need a break or rest.


What I see here that they completely exhaust thenselves with working in several hospitals parallel, consiliums etc, then they go do surgeries in between


Also my radiologist neighbor works 3 day workweeks in 12 hour shifts I think. Or used to. I forget the details. So that example from GP doesn't make sense to me either.


3x12 doesn't seem too bad to me. You are zonked after but 4 days off is pretty sweet.


"Residents can work up to an average of 80 hours per week. The aforementioned general surgeons work an average of 60.78 hours. Meanwhile, orthopedic surgeons work an average of 54.17 hours per week, and plastic surgeons operate just under 50 hours per week."

https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/how-many-hours-do-doctors-....


and yet you describe in-clinic work as "busywork". Pre/post op is super important, actually having to deal with human beings... this actually sounds a lot like software developers who could use a little more practice with the non-coding aspects of their jobs.


Busy work when compared to literally manually cutting and sewing someone’s organs to make sure they stay alive, yes.


If you've spent any time in the corporate world, I think you know that the majority of people slack off for part of the day. The medical profession has its own set of time problems that I don't think should be conflated with the time problems in the corporate world.

Your second point is definitely valid. Changing habits is really hard, and some of us are able to get by while spending very little time doing work because we work so much more quickly than the average drone.


"Slacking off" doesn't enter into the equation. Is your output worth more to the company than it costs to pay you to produce it? If yes, then great there is no problem to be solved.


One way to think of it is that you're not always being paid to be doing something specific, but rather to be available on short (e.g. 15 minutes or less) notice.


Sure, some roles require that, but most definitely not the majority.

In development at least, most of the times I hear this, the "availability" is only needed for random unplanned meetings from useless managers that can't actually plan or work asynchronously.

The organization as a whole or individual managers can't do their jobs well and they make the people that actually get shit done pay for it by "standing by" for no good reason.

Ironically, they also completely ruin productivity with these interruptions.


> In development at least, most of the times I hear this, the "availability" is only needed for random unplanned meetings from useless managers that can't actually plan or work asynchronously.

Really? Because it's pretty routine for me to get pinged on IRC/slack/whatever by another engineer who's looking for help with something. Obviously I set the expectation that I'm not going to be able to instantly reply to every ping so some things are going to have to be async, but there's definitely a lot more than just managers that could ping me.


Are those pings that require immediate attention? In my experience, no.

The vast majority of time in my career, if you have a minimum amount of decent planning, you won't get blocked because you can't talk to another person immediately. And on healthy organizations, even if you do get blocked, you can simply work on something else while that particular task is blocked.

If you really scrutinize all these availability claims, they pretty much all come down to lack of planning.

Planning for blockers, planning for communication gaps, planning for maximizing asynchronous work, planning for decisions that require specific people, etc.

So many people are horrified by the word "blocked" when it's most times an artificial block created by their own systems. If I can't move forward on something, I'll start on something else and come back to the other one later.


This. If you have a high-functioning team with good async culture/habits, in my experience "blockers" are not a big deal. I work closely with 5 other people and we are in 6 different time zones and I can honestly say that we are more productive than teams I have worked with in a traditional office setting. Sure, I cannot just walk over to a teammate's desk and ask a question, but I also don't have anyone walking over to my desk to interrupt me with a question.

We are all intentional about _over communicating_ what we are working on and where we will need support from from each other. Everything else pretty much just flows naturally from that. There are (rare) times were I cannot progress on something that day because I need feedback from someone who will not be online for 10 more hours, but it is just a built-in assumption that this will happen and I always have other work queued up that I can do if I get stuck....


> Because it's pretty routine for me to get pinged on IRC/slack/whatever by another engineer who's looking for help with something.

That's why when we were all colocated in one building, I was logged out. I made it clear they were welcome to drop by my cube whenever they wanted, but I would not be available by IM. It cut the interrupts by half, easily. People use you as a crutch. When you raise the cost even minimally, they are suddenly willing to solve their own problems.

That's the one aspect that COVID destroyed. Now I have to be online as people can't just walk to my cube.


What I have started to do is to block an hour every other day, and when someone sends me a Slack message that feels like I am just their crutch, I snooze it until that scheduled block of time. It works like a charm. I still keep an eye on the urgent questions that I have to answer quickly, and many questions have evaporated by the time I come back to them.


This is another skill that like knowing when to say no, seems counterintuitive when first entering the working world. Sometimes the correct answer is not to drop everything and slowly explain something for the third time that would have been trivial to Google in the first place. You are not doing yourself or them any favors by being overly available for every little question. The kind of person that does this often has a kind of learned helplessness that they need to be shaken out of from time to time.


> This is another skill that like knowing when to say no

Logging out of IM when busy is a simpler skill :-)


It's not about who can ping you. It's about the expectation of urgency behind that ping. A "ping" from a manager calling an unexpected meeting demands a lot more attention than a ping from a colleague looking for help most of the time.


There's an opportunity cost question. If your output is worth more to the company than your costs, but it would be easy for them to hire someone at the same cost who has more output, then you're at risk.


People are not replaceable parts. HR would absolutely love it if all developer 3s were the same - and it should be the case that one developer 3 is more like another developer 3 than a developer 2 - but people are different and have their own quirks and strengths.

And, of course, you're ignoring training costs which are usually a big factor in companies that aren't incompetent. That Senior Dev that's 15% above marketing asking rate but who knows your system inside and out... do you really want to spend six years training a (potentially highly proficient) newbies on all your systems and the subtle intricacies. And how long will it be until you, the manager, trust that new Senior Dev like you did the old? How many fires will you both need to walk through until you see an availability alert and just trust the Senior Dev either is dealing with it or would be ringing your phone if they need extra resources?

It can take quite a while to get a new employee (again, even a highly proficient one) to that place where in a meet your product team can be going over a proposal and your Senior Dev raises there hand and proceeds to calmly explain the incompatibility with the current system and how much it will cost to overcome those incompatibilities - and if they remain silent then you know they've done those calculations and consider it in hand.

Hiring a replacement is an extremely complicated calculations that most companies just punt on - for good reason.


The vast majority of people have been replaceable parts since the days of Henry Ford. If you're not one of those people, congratulations on your privilege, but I bet you're not as irreplaceable as you might believe.


It's a spectrum. You can replace someone to operate a cash register in a week. You can't replace a surgeon in a year, depending on how specialized and renowned. But sure, the majority of lower income work is more replaceable.

>but I bet you're not as irreplaceable as you might believe.

Given all the tech layoffs, maybe. But I think that has more to do with lacking either the money or interest to invest in certain products given economic forecasts.

The fact that your typical tech interview is a month+ and at least 3 (usually 5 or more) rounds of interviews suggest that it's not trivial to replace a dev. Tech is probably middle of the road to train, which is why they'd rather grab interns from college instead of setting up apprenticeships that can fine tailor towards the exact business needs.


> but it would be easy for them to hire someone at the same cost who has more output

History has shown that it's not easy at all to replace someone. It's difficult to find good people and convince them to join you and it can take a long time. If you can write code, you should always have the upper hand on your employer especially if your co-workers also realize that.


It does enter the equation, because idle time «working» or slacking off at work could be better spent pursuing other interests that improve quality of life and most likely increase productivity over time.


I don't think this time should be labeled as "slacking off". It's just not working and there's nothing wrong with that if you've already met your obligations.


[flagged]


> Germany, it feels like some individuals prefer to work as little as possible, maximize their earnings, and are resistant to fixed deadlines or essential tasks and meetings. This trend is concerning, and I'm genuinely worried about what the future holds for our industry here.

You should rest easy because all of those things lead to more relaxed and happy employees which leads to less turnover, better output and higher quality software. Software development is a creative field and companies that treat it at as such are rewarded.


> Just because that is true for you doesn't mean it is true in general. Like, imagine a surgeon -- would he/she spend 8 hours a week slacking? Or a radiologoist -- can he/she read the same number of slides in 32 than 40? Or a barrista at starbucks?

My primary care doc has an assistant whose only job is to follow her around and input data into the electronic medical records system.

There are countless blog posts from doctors complaining that a 1/3rd of their time is spent on redundant paperwork.

For a related humorous take on this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFGLDcTKFIY


My best friend is a radiologist and I guarantee he’s not working 32 out of his 40 reading slides - there could definitely be a way to organise them to have 32 maximum hours with the same output


FWIW, my brother-in-law is too. I and do guarantee that he is reading slides every working hour.


mkaic isn't saying definitely they would be in a better mood, just that they -think- 3-day weekends would be good for their mental health and mood.


> Just because that is true for you doesn't mean it is true in general. Like, imagine a surgeon -- would he/she spend 8 hours a week slacking?

Don't many surgeons only work a handful of weeks per year?

They're essentially already on a much better model.


Not to my knowledge. Source: I know a neuro and ortho.


Yup, another way to think about it is that it’s a difference of 16h, not 8h. You work 8h less and gain 8h of free time.


Or you work 8h less and gain 24 of "contiguous hours that you control" per week.


Yes, the disproportionately huge increase in contiguous time off is the big win in my book.


We could just work Monday and Tuesday with a 40 hour marathon each week fueled by coffee, donuts and an occasional pizza.


Well... :D You can't add the gained time twice. It is like saying, instead of spending 20 USD on coffee, you spend 15 USD. You didn't gain 10 bucks, you are still left with only five more than you would have otherwise.


Leisure hours in a 5-day work week: 72 (8 hours per day and 16 on weekends)

Work hours in a 5-day work week: 40

Difference: 32 hours

Leisure hours in a 4-day work week: 80

Work hours in a 4-day work week: 32

Difference: 48 hours


That’s the diffence. You had 72 hours before, now you have 80 hours of leisure time. It’s 8 hours more of leisure time.


GP - "another way to think about it is that it’s a difference of 16h"

You - "That’s the diffence."


In my reply I said the effective gain is 8 hours.

No matter what kind of math you do, working one day less doesn’t give you two extra days off.


I don't work on Fridays, I'm never going back.


If you're off from 5pm thursday to 9am monday, that's 88 hours, which is 52 percent of a 168-hour week. Goood.


It's like I could've written this comment. I'm working on 4 days per week, and I agree with everything you just said. I've worked on both 5 and 4 days per week. The issue in my case with 5 is: I get insomnia issues for a multitude of reasons. I also have them with 4 days per week, but it's easier to build in fallbacks and so on. My 3rd free day is on the Wednesday for this reason.


>> I could easily meet my weekly objectives in 32 hours rather than 40...

Sounds like someone needs some more tasks for their to do list. I have to abandon about half of the tasks I am meant to do, for lack of time. I can send you some of them to fill that eight hours.

Who here actually works a 40-hour week? HN isn't a bunch of union factory workers punching timecards each day. I'd bet 60 is more common than 40.


>Sounds like someone needs some more tasks for their to do list.

Sure, if there is a corresponding pay increase for those tasks.


60 hours? What the fuck?


5x12 is 60. Many people in tech regularly do 12-hour days.


Some people in certain parts of tech. In the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, the average number of hours worked per week in the US was 42 [0]. 2020 may have been a weird year, but not weird enough to make 60 normal.

I would consider whether your employer is trying to normalize 60 hours to exploit you, rather than it actually reflecting reality.

[0] https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#work-hours-wo...


I have never worked with anyone doing 12 hours a day 5 days a week as usual. Then again I’m in Europe .


I wonder if this has to do with your

> Old Life: Attorney

All the lawyers I know are basically married to their jobs. I think workaholism is just part of law culture


Lawyers have some pretty decent progression and it's very common to open your own firm later in life. It makes sense for those with aspirations to work that hard for that payoff.

Tech, not as much. There are certainly unicorns that probably became billionaires after burning years of midnight oil, but many tech ventures fail, regardless of the experience involved. There is always a need for a lawyer, meanwhile.

I wouldn't do all that overtime on a gamble, and I argue you don't even need to do overtime to win such a gamble in tech.


>Who here actually works a 40-hour week?

Uhh, I did? First job I had a total of 5 weeks of OT. 2nd job never had to work above 8 hours a day, de facto nor de jure. I even had a 4 day experiment for 4 months there and it was lovely. Third job, no overtime.

Did I do some extra hours here and there off the clock? Sure. Especially with wfh I can get fixated and want to spend a bit of time getting something compileable. But outside of that one OT period listed above, I never worked above 50 hours.


For your sake, I hope you're being paid with an assumption of a 60-hour week.


My productivity actually tends to scale negatively with the number of tasks on my to-do list :P. The more there is on it, the fewer items I'm likely to complete!


Anyone in European Union most likely only works 40, because we have actual employee protection laws here.


[flagged]


60 being more common than 40 is not obvious (it's not even true), and if it were it should not be treated as okay. The downvotes are because OP is trying to normalize workaholism.


He might have had a different experience than you. I too served in uniform, often working (and earning) for more than 40 hours a week. Later, when I managed a team in a different country, the cultural norm there was to work longer hours as well. It's worth noting that while a 40-hour workweek might be standard in some places, others might see norms of 44, 50 hours, or even more. Even in Europe, roles like production management or working in a SOC often entail more than 40 hours a week.


It's not a question of experience, it's a question of data. 42 is the average hours worked in the US in software, and the US works more than any other country:

https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#work-hours-wo...


You're almost definitely right and I have an experiment with a sample size of one that confirms your hypothesis.

I used to work 4 days a week but there was absolutely no reduction in workload compared to a 5 day role and plenty of meetings scheduled on my day off.

It was great working 4 days; Wednesdays were my day off and every Tuesday afternoon would have a bit of a "Friday feeling" and I was never more than two days away from a day off. Plus I could go to the psychologist and doctor and so on.

When I went back to 5 days a week, my workload was identical and my output was identical. Stress levels were not hugely different because I just slacked off more with the 5 days.

The impact of moving from 5 days to 4 days for a knowledge worker is probably a bit less than you would expect in every respect. Stress was not drastically reduced (I did school run and pickup on the Wednesday so it was only about 4.5 hours extra), and there was no huge change to my performance, probably just an increase in quality and efficiency.


10 years later...

mkaic

I am a firm believer that I would get more work done with a 3-day workweek than I currently do with my 4-day workweek. I already spend an embarrassing amount of time slacking off daily, it's not like I'm pressed for time to get stuff done in the office. I could easily meet my weekly objectives in 24 hours rather than 32, and having 4-day weekends every weekend I think would be incredible for my mental health and mood. And when I'm in a better mood, I get more work done!

One thing I feel like a lot of people don't realize is just how big a difference it is to go from a 4-day week to a 3-day week. Sure, it's "just one day" but when you think about the ratio between time-on and time-off, the shift becomes a lot more dramatic. 4-on, 3-off means you spend over twice as many days working as not working. 3-on, 4-off means you spend a nearly equal number of days on each. It's just one day of difference, but it feels like a major, major shift.


You copied and pasted, and edited 5->4 and 4->3 in an attempt to make a point about a slippery slope.

But you didn't edit this sentence:

> 4-on, 3-off means you spend over twice as many days working as not working.

Which now doesn't make sense. Proving that it's _not_ as simple as a slippery slope.


Yes. I was quite productive and happy at 4 days/week, and felt a strong part of the team that was still working 5 days/week. But when I tried a more "part-time" schedule of 3 days/week, I was less satisfied and less productive and felt less a part of the team. 4 days/week is still full-time, 3 days/week is part-time.


Continual advances in technology can and should result in people working less for the same productive output.


Vote for it!

That "should" is a government creature; to the market, on the other hand, advances in technology "should" only increase productivity when (preferably now less) people are working the same amount of time (and maybe how about even more time?).


As a boss of quite a large team, I think it's ok to not have everyone be hyper productive 5 days a week and I don't want people cramming 5 days of work in to 4. I want a little slack and room to pivot for my team during the week. I need people to have a spare few hours in the week that they maybe feel is unproductive in order for them to be able to pick up a couple new things that crop up. I'm not able to schedule 40 perfect hours of tasks for people to start on from 9am Monday. Where are as a team Friday 3pm looks very different to where we'd be Thursday 8pm if everyone was nose to the grindstone the whole time.

Also if youre a business that is basically a team for hire to a client who works 5 days a week, what do you tell them when they come up with some valid but urgent request during "normal" business time and that key person isn't there because they've already done their 40 hours. "Sorry we'll have to pick that up next week" very often doesn't fly with them ("what do you mean that person only does 4 days a week, we need that thing done today" is not a conversation I want to have). I cannot always afford to hire more people to cover that unicorn 10x team member who wants to work 4 days.


I'm pretty certain a bus driver couldn't do eight hours worth of driving in six hours.


No, but two bus drivers could.


No. Neither can two clerks keep a store open for eight hours in six hours. Much like nine women can't give birth to a baby in one month.


Uhh, we call them "shifts". 2 clerks can keep one store open (assuming we only need one clerk) anywhere from 6-12 hours if we do 6 hour shifts.

A store isn't a baby, one employee isn't needed 24/7 to keep the lights on.


Right. That still takes as many man-hours as the opening hours of the store. Which is much different from the jobs where time isn't part of the output. Which is the whole point I'm making.

Picking all the oranges from a grove takes eight hours today. Maybe I can do it in six hours if...

Turning an inbox worth of papers takes eight hours today. Maybe I can do it in six hours if...

Keeping the store open for eight hours takes eight hours today. It will always take eight hours. Because the hours are part of the output.


>That still takes as many man-hours as the opening hours of the store. Which is much different from the jobs where time isn't part of the output

It's not about output, it's about quality of life and not making people work their lives away for corporate billionaires. If you need more manpower than a full time working hours, said billionaire corporations pay more for it in overtime or reduce hours.

To go off your metaphors, you (the corporation) can pick oranges, in the grove in 6 hours if you hire more skilled labor. If that's not possible (or if said labor is too expensive), you hire more people to make it possible. If a store needs to stay open for 8 hours with 6 hour workers, you pay 2 hours overtime or pay for two employees with overlapping shifts. Pay for your labor.


Not too hard to do if you drive a lot faster ;)


This would apply to a lot of tech workers I think, especially those working on big tangled mess codebases (which is most companies).

On bad codebases, it's simply not physically possible to work 40 hrs/wk and not burn out, so people find all kinds of ways to cut down on hours working, either by goofing off, or going for long coffee breaks, or playing ping pong or whatever.

A 4 day week would be way more effective in these cases. The problem, as usual, is management. They just cannot get over the hurdle that their job is to maximise company performance, not to crack whips.


I've been on 4/32 for a couple years now and I definitely feel I've been more productive than ever. The main difference is a bunch of idle time in between things has largely gone away.


The simple fact that more or less every company in the entire world does not do 4 day work weeks, when apparently all they have to do is switch their workers to a 4 day work week in order to magically gain more productive workers, as you claim, means either 1) every person running every company in the world is stupid and you're smarter than them about worker productivity, or 2) there's more downsides that make a 4 day work week not worth it, such as in reality only a small fraction of workers actually being more productive


Except there's no rationale to the 5-day work week either. Not too log ago, the proletariat class worked 7 days, then 6 due to religious coercion, then 5 due to unions. The owner class would have no problem asking labor to work 7 days a week again if it weren't for pesky labor laws.


Social and institutional inertia is a powerful, *powerful* thing. The longer something's been around, the longer it takes to change. But just because the status quo is the status quo doesn't mean it's the optimal solution!


You assume the 5 day work week was made with logic and kept due to logic. That's your first mistake. Look at all the forced RTOs happening to show that business logic isn't entirely rooted in hard numbers.

They aren't stupid but companies are inherently risk averse. And short of a global pandemic companies won't want to change what they don't see as broken.


Just watched this interesting video comparing how much we work today to medieval times.

https://youtu.be/hvk_XylEmLo?si=uOTc3ndf87enwrZK

TL;DR we work a LOT more hours now than substance farmers did. They worked 4-6 hours a day and only worked about half of the days out of the year.


I think you mean sustenance... But maybe not. :-)


Subsistence farmers, most likely.


There we go!


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The point isn't that you could work harder now with 5 days and do more; it's that you could be just as productive in 4 days as you currently are, which presumably is acceptable.

The big question is, will people continue to slack off during work hours and lose productivity? I do spend a lot of time in between tasks decompressing from one and gearing up for the next. I'm not sure how that would translate if I just tried to collect all that "slack" time up into a separate day.

At the beginning of the Covid shutdowns, my company did go to a 4-day work week. It was great (although our pay was adjusted). I don't think our productivity suffered, but it's kind of hard to estimate because there were a lot of other unusual variables, like the supply chain issues and variable work schedules of people in other companies.


> The point isn't that you could work harder now with 5 days and do more; it's that you could be just as productive in 4 days as you currently are, which presumably is acceptable.

But that is just true if you are underperforming right now, or are too Conformable in a shitty job. There is always some doc too improve, some stack to update, a new issue to be fixed, a meeting that could be better prepared, a backlog to be improved.. People are just "if nobody says me what to do, then I can just slack off"

> The big question is, will people continue to slack off during work hours and lose productivity?

You will. No skin in the game, deliver or not deliver, there is mostly no consequence, boring work, company needs you.. I did the same. I was working 36 hours/week (friday free) until I realized, that there was a lot of things to do and to be done, but the team was just "naah, personal life FIRST".


There's probably an optimum number of days to work and the suggestion here isn't that lower is always better, just that 5 is above the optimum amount.


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No, sorry but that’s a very dumb way to think about it. If someone can get something done in half the time it takes someone else, and is slacking off the rest of the time, is he stealing from the company ? Obviously not. And would his total output be significantly higher if he tried to work continuously ? Not necessarily. Different people have different productivity patterns. The point is that trying to impose a rhythm or longer hours onto someone does not necessarily improve their output, no matter how much you try to force them.


Does your employer pay you for hours or output? I'm a salaried employee, I get paid for output, not the time it takes to produce.

I think if anything you're stealing from yourself, robbing yourself of the opportunity to take on more responsibility, grow faster, etc.


>If you don’t have enough work, then ask for more.

>You are stealing from your employer.

Lol, no. I get paid $X to do Y work. I'm not about to do free labor for Z when I complete Y. If you want Z done, I need to be paid for it.


why, if you are paying him its means he is making more money than you spending on him, if you aren't willing to pay the premium for the effort why he need to make the sacrifice of more work for free.


> sure you will have all sorts of mental justifications for why that’s reasonable

Because I'm salaried and paid for my work not my time. No other justification is needed.


I find the casual way people flagellate others for having a healthy work/life balance to be concerning.

If your boss is happy with your output, then it doesn't matter how many hours you work to make that happen.

You are paid to produce a result, not to warm a seat for 40 hours a week. I'm sure you will have all sorts of mental justifications for why that's unreasonable or why others should be working themselves to death for nobody's benefit but their boss's, but that's how it is.


This article is so dramatic. "Look at how hard it was for these companies to go to four days a week."

It's not hard. You just declare Friday a weekend. Then you do everything like before.

Did you have meetings on weekends? No? Good, move the Friday ones to another day because they're on the weekend now. Who is going to answer customer support emails on Friday? The same people who answered on Saturday and Sunday, and maybe you'll pay them extra work on the weekend. What if we can't get everything done? You probably weren't getting everything done before, and you either worked on Saturday or just said screw it. Do the same thing.

The only slightly reasonable issue brought up was the lawyers who wanted to work four days but kept having to go to court on Friday. Yes, if you work with external entities, you either have to be willing to say no to working on Friday or if you can't, you have to wait for them to also move to four days. But very few people are actually in a position where they can't say no to the client (the lawyer being one of the few exceptions).

The WSJ wants to make it sound like a massive undertaking because they are pro-business and anti-worker. Don't buy the hype.


> But very few people are actually in a position where they can't say no to the client (the lawyer being one of the few exceptions).

Yea, I agree with this. As the lawyer, when the court asks you your preferred dates for scheduling something, don't give them a Friday.

If the Court asks you to schedule something on a Friday, you could politely request it moved to another day. If the Court says: "too bad, this Court works Fridays, and I'm going to schedule something for Friday", then you show up on Friday. Exactly the same way that you would if the Court said: "I'm going to schedule something for a Saturday".


To be far, the metric of a salary at 40 hours is not valid. The time to commute should be count against that 40 hours and yet we exclude it. You're driving to work means work is taking your time, they also know where you live and how long it takes so there should be no scruples there.

Current metric fuzzes reality and allows for persuasion against 35 work weeks because people think they are only working 40 hours a week.

To be far, I find 9:00-17:00 to be a destructive cookie-cut mentality too. Prefer having about 12 hours of continual time when implementing a new feature or working a new solution. This allows for laying out the solution and better refactoring to make it cleaner. 9:00 to 17:00 does not allow for this because continual thoughts have to be shelved for the next day which takes more energy and time to try and rev-up again to continue where one left off.

To be far, a CEO or President or Owner or Manager seeing you in the office is a social engineering hack. "They are there so they must be doing work, I'm getting what I payed for."


My guess is it's because the commute is really up to the employee. So if someone moves does the employer adjust their salary? What if I ride to work on my bike a few times a week (15 miles)?

Perhaps there could be some time stipend, so days may start a bit later and end sooner than 9-5.


Some companies do indeed do transport stipends for this reason. $100 a month for gas, maintaining a bike, bus/train ticket reimbursement, etc. Doesn't happen often and it doesn't replace the time you take, but it's not unheard of.

Time stipend would he interesting, but Idk if it'd really gain traction, especially with more white collar work offering full remote.


I was surprised to see this in the WSJ at all. Obviously they did it so they could sow doubt. This entire article is likely PR for ActivTrak though:

"Many four-day-week employers don’t appear to be operating more efficiently, though, according to data from ActivTrak, a maker of workforce analytics software. Gabriela Mauch, vice president of ActivTrak’s productivity lab, suspects that is because management hasn’t revamped the way teams work."


I like how you broke this down - it’s really not that hard


> The WSJ wants to make it sound like a massive undertaking because they are pro-business and anti-worker.

I agree. It's just a shame that for the most part we're still using a lens that's so binary. I understand why say Fortune 500 companies are so slow to change. But why are the rest? If you're competing for talent - and nearly all companies are - and "we're on a 4-day workweek" would be appealing, why not do it?

On my last contract I worked 4 days x ~8.5 hrs with Fridays off. LOVED IT. I was more productive and never had to face "This client / project annoys the shit out of me...And even nore so on a Friday." There's nothing to be said for that ;)


>If you're competing for talent - and nearly all companies are - and "we're on a 4-day workweek" would be appealing, why not do it?

At my workplace, this is how we ended up shifting to a 4-day work week. We were in a bit of a squeeze for hiring, and the last few candidates we had hired didn't end up working out.

We shifted to a 4-day work week and we have found we're getting higher quality applicants that would have presumably skipped over us for a more prestigious name, a company offering 4-day already, or whatever.

Not saying it's guaranteed to be the same for others, but it's worked remarkably well for us in our talent search.


It is, at least for now, a point of differentiation.

It also could be dog-fooding. That is, how of is it, "We're innovative. We're pro-team...4DWW? What's that?"

The other thing is, not everyone wants Friday off. Therefore, the company can remain open 5 days, but not everyone is available all five days.


>The other thing is, not everyone wants Friday off. Therefore, the company can remain open 5 days, but not everyone is available all five days.

We rolled it out this way. Business is still open 5 days, roughly half the staff has Mondays off and the others have Fridays off. Staff have a "buddy" on the other schedule that they touch base with in case something needs to be taken care of on one of their days off.


Kudos to your company and its leadership.

The buddy idea is pure genius. Not only does it enable continuity, it's team building. This is the first time I hearing about such an idea...whoa.


> Good, move the Friday ones to another day because they're on the weekend now

That only works if you cancel the bullshit meetings, and empower your employees to say no to bullshit meetings.


I'm on a true 4x8 work week and it's life changing. I have Tuesdays off. It feels close to half my days at work and half off. I'm more productive at work and the extra day off has allowed me so much flexibility in life; from going to Costco when it's quiet to 5 hour bike rides around Denver and even spending the day with my kids if they're off. It's huge. It's hard to place a value on it, but I'd probably turn down another job that was 5 a week unless it was at least $70k+ in more annual pay.


A midweek day off sounds pretty uninteresting relatively speaking. I'd much rather have (official) long weekends--though Fridays seem to be there in a lot of informal arrangements at many companies these days.


Likewise, but I think it depends on how people like to spend their spare time. I love being able to go on a road trip or camping trip, and 3-day weekends open up an entirely new world of possibility for a weekend trip.

For people that use the time to do errands, I suspect mid-week is better. I do wish we could settle on weekends though because the errands can be easily done on Friday or Tuesday or whatever, whereas a weekend trip cannot.


I'm all for a 4-day week, as long as we all get a different extra day off. I don't need most of society to shut down for another day a week. I need a day when everything's running but I don't have to work. A society-wide 3-day weekend? That's a nightmare, to me.


>That's a nightmare, to me.

In the US most retail at least doesn't shut down on the weekend today. So a lot of companies having Friday off--which I see happening informally to some degree anyway (I almost never have a Friday meeting these days)--presumably wouldn't make a lot of difference. A day off in the middle of the week would mostly mean house chores for me without a real option to do a 3-day weekend which opens up a lot of possibilities.


Do you mind if I ask who you work for? I’m in Denver as well and I’m always curious what companies are doing 4x8 or even 4x10.


Someone I know worked at Lockheed and had every other Friday off and worked 9-5. Not quite a 4 day work week because half the smallish team needed to be on call Fridays.


A lot of government offices (and therefore their contractors) work '9 nines' to get every other Friday off, though in practice it really becomes '9 eights'.


There needs to be a catalogue for this!



Interested too case OP responds


Same here - love my Tuesdays off and going for long bike rides before collecting the kids from school to play. Costco never seems to have quiet times near me any more though! I get the Friday Feeling on a Monday afternoon, get the out of office ready and switch off mentally. Every Public holiday that falls on a Monday gives an automatic 4 day weekend. I try to avoid squeezing in too many odd-jobs like a weekly food shop. Like you, I would also only look for a new job that could be flexible on 4 days.


I forgot to mention the Monday holidays! They're the best.


> I'm on a true 4x8 work week and it's life changing.

while many have shared positive experiences, mine was quite the opposite. i did a 4-day work week for around 1.5 months and didn't find it to be beneficial at all. i went back to a 40-50 hour work week. i really love my work and want a lot more of it. not having a family also probably helps.


Thank you for specifying that you do not have a family. More people should give their life context when they make posts like this, positive or negative.

There has been a time in my life for each type of work arrangement, and there will be a time for retirement. Talking without that context is just going to result in talking past each other.


> Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University, says it is doubtful most businesses can shed a fifth of the workweek and maintain productivity. “Whenever I talk to managers, they find the topic pretty insulting—they argue it implies they are completely wasting a day a week,” he said.

Yeah, that's the point. You shouldn't expect the same productivity. You should expect less. Just like in theory if we went back to a six day week we'd expect more productivity.

The change isn't expected to hold productivity, it's expected to make people's lives easier and take advantage of technological advantages. Go to a four day work week and you can expect the same productivity that you had 20 years ago at five days.

Nothing wrong with that, if reduced productivity is even true, but most studies refute that anyway.


I just now asked some friends who work in the enterprise space the question "how many hours per week do you spend in meetings that feel completely pointless and a waste of your time?"

The lowest answer was 8 hours. The highest answer was 15.

We can absolutely cut a day and lose no productivity. We already have a four-day workweek, we're just forcing people to spend a day of their de-facto three-day weekend in the office with their thumbs up their ass.


I'm definitely not 40-hours-productive, and would love to go to a 4-day work week. But I think that a lot of down-time that I spend between tasks wouldn't go away, because my brain can't just switch contexts that quickly. Or maybe I'm waiting 15 minutes for my computer to run a job, and can't effectively work on some other task for that short of a time.


I don’t even have 8 hours a week in meetings total


> Whenever I talk to managers, they find the topic pretty insulting

Most managers in most organizations *are* completely wasting a day a week. If they find that insulting, they should stop doing it.


People who make it to management are rarely combinations of self aware, empathetic, or rational about work output and arrangements, hence the challenges around these conversations.

Look no further than Amazon, with their we “feel” in person is better. They don’t care about the data, they care about the control.


> You shouldn't expect the same productivity

Hmm, in my experience rarely anyone looks at a real productivity; you can thread water/even waste everyone else's time, but if you do it 5 days a week it's fine

at _current place_ after more than a year of exceeding the expectations (I got really good feedback from my peers and I pushed many projects forward) I asked for 1 day off a week as a form of a raise and I could reasonably justify it (I need my time off so I can stay productive in the long-run, I felt a little bit burnout at that stage); I only got big fat middle finger

obviously after that my productivity plummeted down to all-time-low, but seems like nobody really cares, so I stopped caring as well :)


I wonder if that's actually true, though. Especially since engineering is a creative field. For example, what if I churned out 20% less code, but bugs per line decreased by 50%? Or if we're architecting a system and the +50% weekend time led us to a significantly better design?


But they are wasting a lot of time in most cases. How many people work in the corporate world and spend hours in meetings keeping people up to date who add nothing?


It seems like that most formal studies show that it’s just as productive, at least in the few nations that did made specific processes to test it out.


Nicholas Bloom is an economist & yet he appears to be conflating productivity & output!?


The journalist's phrasing surrounding his quote did seem to do this. But his actual quote did not.


I assume you’d expect a 20% pay cut


Why? Pay isn't related to output. It's related to what it costs to get me to work for you, ie worker supply and demand.


And even if it is related to output working less hours doesn't always mean less output. If you can genuinely retain the same output, or similar within reasonable bounds, I'd expect to see no pay cut. I know for a fact I'm more productive a tuesday after a 3 day weekend than a monday after a 2 day weekend so I'd expect to see at most a 5% decrease in output and I'd happily trade 5% of my pay for a 3 day weekend every week.


I'd expect to be paid the same amount for accomplishing the same tasks. It's not that hard to comprehend.


I'd rather five day workweeks but with shorter days, to be honest. I feel I have about 3 hours of peak mental acuity each day that I'd like to spend on my work. It seems like a better time-for-value trade for my employer.

To be fair I work more remotely than not these. If I had to commute in more often I'd almost certainly prefer 4-day workweeks.


Por que no los dos? For lots of jobs peak productivity is probably around 20-30 hours of work. Could easily be 5-6 hours, 4 days per week. Gives you time to warm up and cool down from your more intense work.


peek productivity not means peek output, i'm agree than the possibility for 30 or 20 hour work week should exist but i'm working 20 hours and even when less productive i will make more in 30 hours, i don't want so i work 20, but i will make substantially more output in 30 hours not 50% more but 35% so my compensation make sense being lower , the 4 day work week means that productivity compensate the loss of hour so the output and to consequence the salary don't change.


You're speaking my language here.


4-day weeks have a lower cost than 32 hours spread over 5 days, because some of the days you’re off would have been off anyway due to holidays or whatever. You can also get away with offering fewer days off without doing any harm—all weekends are three-day weekends, and you see fewer parents taking days off because of e.g. a Friday school in-service day.

The cost of having Fridays always off is a fair bit lower than 20% of actual hours worked in most 5-day-a-week workplaces.


We are stating subtly different points here. Holding 32 hours a week constant, you are arguing that 4-day workweeks reduce cost to the employer, and I think your arguments are at least situationally true quite often; however, I am stating that shorter workdays would lead to greater average value per hour spent for my employer from me, which I think is also true in my case.

The deciding factor is whether the difference in value generation is greater than the possible cost reduction you propose. That is a difficult question to give a definitive answer to, especially because there are large groups of people who want to spend as little mental effort as possible at work, to whom my personal preferences obviously don't apply.

TLDR: You bring up an interesting point. Thank you for your reply.


I do think a 6 hour 5 day schedule could see zero productivity drop, sure. At four 8s I’m gonna be zonked out short of 8 hours, anyway, just like with a five 8s. That’s a good point.


I've worked 4-10s for 3 years at an aerospace contractor but after 8 hours I felt done. I worked 5-7s during COVID as WFH and really enjoyed it. Sometimes we would do 4-8s around holidays and vacations and that was also great. It's really about defining a culture that supports quality over quantity of work.


> I've worked 4-10s for 3 years at an aerospace contractor but after 8 hours I felt done.

Same thing here - I enjoyed the day off, but 10 hours was definitely too long, and the day off wasn't really worth the trade off.

My current employer has "my mondays" - half the Mondays are days with no meetings, half are completely off. From an employee retention perspective this is a pretty sticky benefit - it would be difficult for me to go back to a normal schedule.


one thing I’ve realised is working style is really something that is highly preferential, you cant possibly satisfy everyone.

Working from Office, Working from home, hybrid- working hours, lunch hours.

you cant ever hope to satisfy everybody.

In my case for example, i bloody hate commuting, I feel like any work I do in a day eats disproportionately too much of my day (like going to the gym, where if you work out for 45 minutes you should allocate 90 minutes actually due to prep, shower, travel etc).

I’d much rather have longer fewer days.


Best is to just have core hours that work for everyone. Ours are 9-12 and 1-3.


I'm a big fan of this. Having an idea of the "golden hours" for different parties is even moreso the way with geographically separated teams.

I'm currently operating out of Finland as a software lead for a quite complex product (the displays on your bus/train that show you the next stop - a smorgasbord of bespoke hardware, embedded Linux, and everything you can imagine at the border of software and electrical engineering) and I keep a laser sharp eye on what hours I work so that I can efficiently communicate with my colleagues in North America. If I need to get ahold of my man in Chicago I thankfully have the clearance at work to come in an hour or two later in exchange for having an hour or two which matches his timezone. There's a golden window where my evenings wrap around to his mornings that I like to try to use for high bandwidth communication before I close out for the night.


This is why working in a company with async communication is quite nice as you can do whatever works for you. I'd do 12h*3 and ~30min on the other days to answer any urgent questions from people working on a different schedule. Sadly I don't work in a company with that culture anymore :(.


That sounds amazing. I often do my best stuff at 2-3AM (mega night owl), but I don't necessarily want to work that schedule - not least because it's a shared house so it's not a time frame I'd ever want to be, say, having to take a voice call.


I used to work 5 days a week, 9 am to 2pm. I quite liked it, but my employer would often call or ask for "urgent" stuff to be down after my hours, which meant I could not be fully present for family or whatever I had planned. I have now switched to a 3 days workweek at another job, and I find it much easier to set effective boundaries. If I'm not there I'm not there and that's it. I don't think I could ever go back to working 40 hour weeks to be honest. When do you get anything personal done?


> When do you get anything personal done?

This is why my stomach drops when this discussion turns into "the whole organization should shut down for another day". That's what I need a day off for. To go to doctor's appointments. To watch a contractor when he's working in my home. To talk to the lawyer planning my estate. Those people need to be working for me to get the full value of my extra day off.


We don't all need to shut down on the same day, and if we do, we'll schedule around it or use shift work. As you can plainly see, service work still gets done even with two days off in a week. Three won't make a difference.


That's my point. I think the vast majority of adults have some amount of personal business that already isn't getting done. Shortening the week is going to make it worse.


Depends on the job I'm sure, but genuinely only have 3 good hours too. After 5-6, I may as well just not be working. I'm writing garbage code and I'm grumpy.


I interviewed with one place for a kernel dev role that was explicitly 12-4pm. Yes you read that right. They were in the “defense” space and lowball salary so I didn’t take that offer but always thought it was interesting idea


That is a fascinating idea. I could easily see myself going for that if I loved kernel hacking and they were willing to let me work remotely.

I imagine you'd have to have a really stripped down warm up and cool down routine for such a role. 30 minutes to get into the flow, 3 hours flow state, 30 to step back down and do any documentation you needed to.


I like this better in theory, but my experience is that, given my current hours, work tends to very frequently spill over until later in the evening. If my day was supposed to end at 3 or even noon I don't think it would make a practical impact on how late I worked.

Work spilling over into extra days does happen during crunch times, but is much rarer. Though I likewise fear that 4 day work weeks would simply mean you end up working 8-8 everyday to get the same amount of stuff done.


Interestingly -

I went on ADD meds (Dexedrine, 10mg) ohh 6 months ago. I used to be like you and now I'm the other way around - it's easier to Just Keep Going.

Note that I would totally support you getting "five sixes" (~30hours); I'm just finding it interesting that with the meds, for myself I'd now want "three tens" (or whatever).

PS - It helps a lot that I freakin' love working in Ruby/Rails, so I kinda... want to just keep going anyway.


I could see that as being a quite straightforward effect from taking a drug that increases your ability to focus for prolonged periods at a time.

I don't have ADD myself, however, and I find that even a stimulant as low grade as non-decaf coffee generally messes with my ability to stay focused. Different strokes, I guess.


Oh, it's more than that, I think!

Dexedrine feels like it (1) increased the "volume" on the outside world, so that it could compete with whatever's happening inside my head and (2) increased my ability to choose what I was focusing on.

Contrast with Adderral, which felt like cutting off my peripheral vision (like wearing blinders, or a costume mask), only for my sense of focus and awareness instead of literal vision. (I hated it).

Caffeine "just" ups overall energy levels, so it would give me more energy to direct focus... but it also amped up the things that would generate distractions.

Huberman Lad has a good episode going into the brain structures, which aligned with what I think I've experienced.

But yeah! It's well known (AFAIK) that people with ADD have "opposite reactions", although it's more about the complex engine under the hood.


This!!! Kids (where i live) go to school 9-2, and it is a true nightmare to extend those hours to fit with parents longer work schedule. Let's just make both the same!

Also free afternoons every day, better than a longer weekend.


I have a four-day, 32-hour work week, and I am less productive, but that was the plan up front and I'm very okay with that (and luckily, so is my management).

I wanted more personal time, and I also needed more time to take care of my physical and mental health with appointments -- which all of my providers schedule during the 9-AM-to-5-PM period anyway -- and simple rest and relaxation. If I didn't have this schedule, there's a good chance I wouldn't still be at this current job or would have burned out earlier in general, and my contributions are valued, so it works out well for all parties involved.

But I don't think you have to justify it so concretely or morally -- you can just want to do a day's less formal work, or want to work toward a society with less work and more leisure time! The 40-hour work week is arbitrary, anyway.


Did you exchange the extra hours for a cut in pay?


Yes, so I get 80% of the normal salary for my role, but the same benefits package (insurance, 401(k) match, etc.).


I've had a 3 day work week for years (at 20 hours per week) and I love it. I feel like I'm more productive than before, too. Not just productivity per hour, but total productivity. I was surprised by this result since I'm working half the hours per week.


When applying for senior positions, a 4-day work week is already quite an ask. I feel like the whole agile/scrum approach is so deeply rooted into modern companies that ironically they are unable to adapt.

We had somebody in a different timezone join the team and there was a long discussion about when we should do stand ups. I almost suggested just dropping it, but that would have been heresy.


Did anyone suggest doing standups asynchronously, for instance, over Slack?


I'm a senior software engineer, but, yes, there are lots of complexities. 3 day work weeks might only work for top performers, but a lot of them never ask.


Is that generalizable, though?

Most people I know who are working under 30 hours a week do not qualify for important benefits such as health insurance.

Are you benefiting from a partner's income and health plan, or are you able to sustain yourself entirely on your own income?

And out of curiosity ... how do you spend the extra 4 days per week?


I'm earning half my previous salary, and I'm single, so it was definitely an adjustment. I had heard about the 30 hour per week cutoff for benefits, but I was surprised that my company was able to provide full benefits at 20 hours per week. It's a very large company, so I know they're following all the laws properly. Maybe the ones that require a minimum of 30 simply aren't up-to-date on the latest laws.

It probably helps to be a top performer and have years of experience. But if I were to be let go tomorrow, I'm sure it'll be difficult to find again. But I'm going to try! Never hurts to try when you know what you want.

I keep a low profile but the extra days per week are fun to fill! There does seem to be some sort of mental flip between 3 days and 4 days because I know that the majority of my week is whatever I want to do versus the majority (or vast majority) being work.


One detail about the 4-day work week that tends to be ignored is that a 4 day work week is not the same as a part-time position, and, crucially, it should be compensated the same as a "full-time" 40 hours per week position. Some companies claim to have a 4 day work week schedule, when in fact they simply negotiate an equal reduction in salary.

The point of working less is for people to have more personal time without this impacting their livelihood. There are many well-studied benefits of this[1], both to workers and companies, yet greedy companies still cling to archaic practices to squeeze as much profits as possible out of each employee.

Even after considerable productivity increases gained in part by automation and technology, we've seen decades of wage stagnation and an increasing productivity-pay gap[2,3,4]. Workers have lived with this short end of the stick for far too long, and the least controversial step forward would be to make the 4 day work week without pay reduction a general policy in all companies in nonessential industries. There are industries that need to operate with longer schedules, and those positions should be compensated accordingly, but most IT companies can certainly operate with much less than 5 days per week.

[1]: https://time.com/6256741/four-day-work-week-benefits/

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoupling_of_wages_from_produ...

[3]: https://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/

[4]: https://www.epi.org/productivity-pay-gap/


I think of a "work week" as a bit of a fishbowl situation for most professionals. If you extend it from 40 hours to 80 hours you'll generally get the same output over time.

Of course, this productivity can only be squeezed into only so small a frame, but I think what we're learning is that 40 hours is probably not the maxima for efficiency.

The simplest way to have more efficient workers is to make them happy. I don't have a panacea for that problem, but giving them an extra day for leisure sure doesn't hurt when possible. But more than that, companies rarely ask and listen to employees about what they want/need, and there's so much social pressure that people seldom speak up. Fundamentally this is a cultural problem.


At Close we have been offering an 80% salary / 4-day week option for engineering roles for a few years now. This originally was mandatory during early 2020 COVID-19 economic uncertainty as a way to cut costs without doing layoffs. Quickly it became optional – most people moved back to 100% but some people decided they enjoyed it and wanted to continue that arrangement.

What's interesting about 4d weeks is that it's 20% less work but 50% more days off, which can be very impactful for folks.

Our 80% option is a flexible thing, as in you can choose to do it for the summer but not the rest of the year. We try to adjust workloads accordingly. I've taken advantage of it myself for a period of time and it gave me more free time to be with family and also work on side projects.

Some people really love taking our 80% option / 4d and others absolutely don't want to.

Companies offering flexibility in work hours can really help retention IMO, and is a natural progression after (a) remote / freedom of location, and (b) freedom of specific work schedule.

I know a few companies offer "4-day week summers" to everybody or even "everyone always does 4-day weeks". But I like the "fairness" of giving people an option, since different people are in different life situations at different times where working more vs. less can be especially helpful.


> This originally was mandatory during early 2020 COVID-19 economic uncertainty as a way to cut costs without doing layoffs.

I'm surprised I've never heard of this solution before. I think it's brilliant, especially for engineering roles where we can still make rent on 80% pay.

I would gladly move back and forth between the options as I get more or less burnt out with work, or take on a new extra curricular.



Since becoming a freelancing contractor I’ve experimented a fair bit with my work week and for me the sweet spot is 5 6-hour days, split up as 2x90min, 2 hour lunch and another 2x90min.

I prefer a five day workweek with shorter days because I rarely have 8 good hours in me. That, and as long as the rest of the world is working 5 days a week it’s easier to conform.


This is pretty much how I work anyway as someone who technically should be working 5 8-hour days and I tell everyone on my team that I really don't care how much they're working as long as: their output is at least meeting expectations, they attend any meetings they're required to be at (although at this point it's almost only stand-up and 1:1s), and they handle on-call when it's their turn on the schedule (although we're a data team so the stakes are a bit lower in terms of incident response).

I usually start anywhere from 8-10, work until around 12-1, get some chores done/eat something/work out, work until around 4-6. Some days there's more in the tank or whatever problem is interesting and I can't put the laptop down. Some days I'm done by 3 pm because I'm not getting anything done. And sometimes it's like 8 pm on a Sunday and I have a great idea about how to solve something so I pick up the laptop.


I feel like the 4 day workweek will need to be led by new businesses rather than hoping large corporations will ever go there. In my mind a 4 day work week would also increase consumption across the board as people have more time to vacation/have experiences/get into hobbies/etc…

Of course it is not a silver bullet but spreading awareness is a good step.


If I was asked to test a four-day work week, I would work harder and more efficient than I usually would to make a four-day work week look like a better option, even if it wasn't.


I have a split lunch schedule -- I usually take 30 minute lunches during Mon-Thu and take an hour for lunch on Friday. Based on my internal notes (and a bunch of metrics) I am more productive on Friday (especially afternoons) than I am on a given Tuesday afternoon. There's a ton of other variables and probably some contraindications in that anecdote, but it's the kind of counter-intuitive result that a 4-day work week is based on.

I'm also amazed at how variable an hour can be in terms of output. I can easily do 5-10x work at my best compared to my worst. The key here is being completely in the zone, and not trying to do it all the time.

I believe a 4-day work week could help put more people in that productive zone,resulting in as much/more output for less hours spent. Of course, you have to have employees trusting enough and stable enough to use the extra time to decompress.


I find this very interesting from the tax perspective too.

In case you reduce your pay by 20% to accommodate for fewer hours, in many countries with progressive tax rates, the effect on take-home pay in absolute terms is not as significant as relative.

For example, in Germany, 100K gross leaves you with 57 after tax. Whereas 80K results in ~47k. In absolute terms, it is 'just 10k less', on a salary of 57k, but with 20% less working hours.


I'd like a model where every other Friday is off for half the staff. A lot less complicated for companies because they can still operate 5 days a week. Also a lot less radical/daunting from their perspective. But all those extra 3-day weekends, some of which become 4-day weekends due to holidays, will create a lot of much-needed time and space in most working peoples lives.


So brass tacks, these articles have been circulating for the last year or so. Microsoft literally put out a study showing the 4-day workweek led to an increase in employee productivity. They aren’t going to just give us a 4-day workweek. The articles have become an echo chamber of non-change.

The trend is going the OPPOSITE direction- corporate overlords want us all back in the office where they can see us.

Change won’t happen through writing and sharing these articles… we already all know 4-day workweek is a no-brainer. Strike. Resign. Unionize.


If you want to work less and get paid more, there are better alternatives:

1) start a business 2) become a contractor/consultant. You can charge much more than a regular job and cut hours to get paid the same amount as you did before. I've been a consultant for 10 years and almost never work 40 hours. If I do, it's on my side-business and it's by choice.

The problem with these 4-day work weeks is that you are imposing your lifestyle changes on potential employers by expecting to get paid more for working less. It's a losing battle and will most-likely only be temporary, like remote work (I've been remote for 10+ years and it's written into my contracts).


That's my long term plan. But that involves having significant capital and knowledge to start my own business. On top of an ability to either quickly start gathering revenue. I will of course have the worst of both worlds; likely working somewhere part time while preparing my product to sell, which is not proven income.

Meanwhile, consulting similarly requires specialized and/or significant knowledge/value to bring to a business. People who can do either probably are already in a position where they don't rely on full time income to survive.

>The problem with these 4-day work weeks is that you are imposing your lifestyle changes on potential employers by expecting to get paid more for working less. It's a losing battle and will most-likely only be temporary, like remote work

1. I woildnt mind the option even with reduced salary. Especially as my salary grows (80% of 150% of my salary is still 20% more of my current salary. And I live very comfortably t on begin with). I wouldn't even mind 4 10 hour days. But few offer it to begin with. Some progress there would be nice.

2. I don't see remote work as temporary. Pre-pandemic I'd say 80% of companies in my industry expected on-site full time and requesting wfh was like pulling teeth. 3 years later that more or less flipped; so many companies advertise remote first even if all the big employers are RTO'ing.

I hope for a similar revolution with 4 day work weeks.


As is mentioned in the article, it's not a requirement that you get paid more for working less. Many would take a pay decrease to be able to do the 4-day work week.

Why should an employer always be able to impose their desires on my lifestyle and not the other way around? Ultimately it's just another piece of negotiation, like pay, PTO, remote, etc.


"Why should an employer always be able to impose their desires on my lifestyle and not the other way around"

It depends on your leverage. If you have a skillset that very few other people possess and the potential employer needs you, sure.

If you are an amazon warehouse worker that can easily be replaced, good luck.


A few months ago a few recruiters approached me about a job with a company that works 4 days a week.

They work 4 10 hour days a week.

There's just no way to balance that kind of schedule and children. I was very frank when I responded to the recruiter.


Companies should just have roughly 20 "core hours" in the week during which everybody is expected to be reachable for calls, meetings, chats, etc. And then just let people do whatever they want as long as they deliver.


Half of every week seems like a lot of talking. I don’t find the remaining 20 hours of deep work to be enough for the team’s goals, or for me personally.


To be clear, you’re saying it’s the non-core hours in which you’d get work done?

This is probably true for most ICs, and false for most managers/execs. Hence the tension.


Yeah, clarified that.


I believe the proposal is to have 20 hours a week in which everyone’s expected to be available at the same time, not limiting weekly work hours to 20.


You don't need to talk for the 20 core hours. It's just time where everybody is supposed to be around if there is need for collaborative work.

It's a maximum.


That's reasonable and seems like parent was expecting some to work more hours where/when necessary (or not long as they deliver)


Anecdotally, I intentionally never worked more than 4 hours any given day when writing my masters thesis. I ended up finishing many months ahead of my peers, which I feel like was because of, not in spite of, limiting the hours I worked.

I was always refreshed and motivated, and it was trivially easy to be productive and effective during the 4 hours I was working. After starting a regular 9-5, I've never felt the same kind of productivity, because I am never as rested and refreshed.


Feels like this had some traction a year ago at the peak of the Great Resignation, when worker power seemed ascendent. Now after all of the mass layoffs, are there more companies actually experimenting with four day workweeks, as opposed to those who had made the switch earlier? Also a shame that one of the more high-profile tech startups with a four-day workweek, Bolt, imploded (though not as badly as their competitor, Fast).


Reading this thread as an Austrian makes me shiver at the thought of people thinking the American model is in any way "normal".


I honesty believe that the recent new interest in such not-so-new concept spark from the failing RTO policies, those who want to keep humans like intensive farmed poultry because cities are a business, seen that the hard stick does not work try the sweet one "if you comply you'll work less days", added to the ridiculous hybrid work model.

I sincerely hope that fails as well.


Everybody is different. We recently had 2 Fridays off a month and it just dropped back to 1 Friday off a month. I feel more productive, actually, contrary to what most people are saying. Fridays are mostly clear of meetings so I can actually focus more unlike other days of the week.


If all your meetings take 20 hours per week and you're left with no time to do deep work, no wonder you feel more productive with an extra 100% focused day.

Kind of like squeezing all your clothing from two closets into one won't make your room feel less cramped unless you cut half your clothing as well. Most people could do without that extra half and be better for it.


Would there be some standard between companies to always agree on the same day being the day off?

Seems like a nightmare for working with other companies if the employees are off on a day you are not, and you need to contact them to work on something with them.


What we need is a culture change where companies accept that there are very few tasks that need to be done synchronously and with urgency.


Why do you think that? Assuming both companies worked 4 days between M-F, that would always mean you'd have a minimum of 3 days overlap. Unless we're talking about urgent support type issues, for which scheduling would probably need to be staggered at each company, anyway, I think 3 days a week is totally enough time to schedule necessary meetings and get prompt responses to email communications.


I always thought the perspectives of this question is weird. Are people asking to be paid more than they work, or is someone forcing them to work full time?

I totally understand the urge (and suggestion) to not work too much on the other hand.


No need for a new working model like 4days a week, just get rid of the useless meetings (which is most if them) including the clowns show daily standup and the likes and you will be pretty much good to go.


Legit question, how many of you would take a 20% paycut for a 4 day work week?


Do I have to do 80% of the work?


I am more productive working 7 days a week at 5 hours per day than working 4 days a week at any number or hours.

Many hard problems are solved by the thinking deeply about a problem, consistently over the long period of time.


>Many hard problems are solved by the thinking deeply about a problem, consistently over the long period of time.

Your brain isn't any different from physical muscles; it needs rest and can be overextended. Muscles need time to repair and reinforce tendons after a workout. Meanwhile, practice requires rest so your mind has time to form connections and store new knowledge in long term memory.

There's been many situations where I threw myself at a problem for over a day, only to wake up the next morning and solve my blocker in under an hour.


I currently only work 4 days a week. It's pretty good, but my goal is to get down to working just 3 days a week while getting paid more for those three days.


What's your plan to achieve that? Consulting?


Upskilling/retraining into an even more niche area than I already work in.


The challenge comes with debt. If you are not servicing debt, then it becomes easier to be free to do the things you need to do when you want to do them.


with so much overhead with meetings that can happen with an email, don't think this can work unless you optimize your time elsewhere.

also, many companies treat fridays (second half at least) as a write off for routine work as it is, and it does not practically lead to more productivity imo.


To me it's the failure of our governments the fact that we're still discussing about a 32-hours work week, the processes have been evolving and have been optimised for the past couple of centuries, the value produced has seen an increased of a order of magnitude, but the benefits of it all has been squeezed from the working class into the pocket of a few individuals, I've broken my balls having to justify why we need shorter weeks, we could work 2 days and produce as much as it was produced 50 years ago, why do I have to have a life of misery always working, to not be able to afford even a house by myself, while these motherfuckers have everything and then tell me to work more, fucking capitalism, it's all useless existence and greed

I feel it insulting that we need justify keeping the level of productivity with a shorter working week, while the change in process and tooling that boosted productivity were never adopted to make the sake of the working class but for the benefit of the powerful, its time to make it a law


Agreed.

My industry has hugely benefited from the technological productivity boost and in response has gradually increased our working hours over the years. We usually work 60-90 hour weeks now (50 hours is the absolute minimum we ever work a week) and are doing a lot more and making way less than we did in the past. We make pretty decent money, but only because of our absurd overtime, so some people in the industry are actually against reducing our hours to a more reasonable 40 because it will substantially decrease their take home pay.

And with inflation eating into our wages, we make less and less every year. We aren’t saving lives here or anything. The only reason we have to work these hours is to save our bosses money.


Unfortunately that's 100% because of capitalism.

We pay with our valuable time so they get more time to enjoy their yachts.

The government can't really solve this anymore, because corporations control the politicians and public opinion through the media.

The only real solution is, in my view, revolt. But the majority (like myself) are also way too comfortable to risk anything drastic, so the status quo will persist for the time being.


> The only real solution is, in my view, revolt. But the majority (like myself) are also way too comfortable to risk anything drastic, so the status quo will persist for the time being.

I tend to agree with this. My prediction is the capitalists will continue to extract more and more resources from the working class for the next 50-60 years until there is a breaking point. After some violence, society will swing back to prioritizing workers' rights, then regulations will be eroded slowly over another 100-200 years as people forget what it was like, and the cycle continues until the earth is no longer habitable.


Weird how that timeline for the inevitable communist revolt in the west has been a few decades out for 100 years.


It's incredible to see how effective the red scare was/is. Passed down through generations making people go against their own well being...


It's idiotic to call communist revolt just people wishing to have a better redistribution of wealth, I don't see why the opposite of going from a 1500x difference of pay from working class to something more balanced, has to be seen like proletarian dictatorship, I guess it's just the stupidity that affects modern society, I wish people with those thought would just be intelligent enough to understand how fucking retarded they are

and you also have the nickname of a guy who enjoyed simple stuff, enjoyed taking care of his time, criticising those who would call the servants for dinners.. I guess it's just that modern society is about showing off without understanding a dick


I didn't say communist revolt. More like, any attention paid to worker quality of life at all.


These people calling marxists or communists people just wishing for social democracy, how much would it take to let them open a book sometimes, they’re a cemetery of human knowledge


What’s the difference with “them” enjoying their yachts and you being “way too comfortable”?


Two extra 0's on their yearly take home pay.


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