Wall Street Journal: Is Now the Moment for the Four-Day Workweek? Answer: HELL YEAH!
Wall Street Journal: Is Now the Moment for the Four-Day Workweek?
Answer: HELL YEAH!
Here are 3 reasons why…
Background: Ryan Breslow is the CEO of Bolt — a high growth Silicon Valley company in payment processing. They’re valued at $11B and have several hundred employees.
Last year Ryan gave everyone a “wellness day” off work on a Friday. And employees loved it.
So the next week he said f — k it — the next three Fridays are wellness days. And they loved that too!
So he decided to make it permanent. He said that a five day workweek wasn’t healthy for society or his people. I mean does anyone want to work on Friday?
Result: The company had its best growth year to date.
(1) America has the worst work-life rights of any developed country.
Startling facts about work-life balance in the USA:
- Over last 20 years average American work day has increased by 90 minutes.
- Only the United States, Swaziland, Liberia and Papua New Guinea don’t guarantee paid time off (PTO) maternity leave. Most developed countries also offer PTO for fathers.
- Only a few of very impoverished countries and the United States, don’t guaranteed paid leave when you’re sick. 86 percent of food service workers get no paid sick days and they can be fired if they don’t show up to work.
- Only the United States, Guyana, Suriname, Nepal and Burma don’t guarantee at least some PTO. Almost every European gets at least four weeks off per year.
The four day workweek sounds revolutionary. It’s not. It’s pretty damn reasonable.
It just sounds revolutionary because our expectations are based on the norms of a country with one of the most unregulated and intense work cultures in the world.
(2) Time does not equal productivity.
I find it so strange that in business the default measure for productivity (and thus compensation) is time. You’re paid for being in a location for X hours or paid an annual salary based on your job title. This fully misses half of the “productivity equation”.
Work Done = Time Working X Output Rate.
Someone who does 10 work tasks per hour working half days is as productive as someone who does 5 work tasks per hour working full days. A salaried VP who generates 2x the revenue of her counterparts should get to work half time if she wants (or get 2x her salary).
Why do we default to time? Why do so many of people have to sit on their hands in the office getting paid to pretend like they’re working when there’s simply no work that needs done?
The answer — laziness. It’s a pain in the ass to actually measure productivity. (And I admit it isn’t easy or always feasible).
But remote work is forcing management to rethink the time = productivity paradigm. It’s simple laziness to say that because someone was “at work” for a certain amount of time they generated a certain amount of value.
Here’s proof from the WSJ podcast. In Iceland they did a four month study of the four day work week and found that in most workplaces productivity was sustained or improved. People were more efficient (and happier for it).
(3) What are we working for anyway?
This is the million dollar question. Actually it’s the trillion dollar question (or whatever comes after trillion).
We’ve settle on GDP growth as the barometer for progress. So a measure of productivity is our measure of progress. That’s literally work for work’s sake. We’re being productive in order to increase our productivity — makes sense?
That’s a lot like working 70 hour weeks this year because last year you worked 65 hour weeks. But your personal GDP went up — great!
Work is a means to an end — happiness. It is not an end in itself. That’s true for us as individuals and as a society.
I think we’ve forgotten why we’re working. You work to make a living. You make a living so that you can be happy.
So if you make a living and you’re not happy doing it then guess what? You failed.
A four day workweek will help us remember why we work: to make a living, then live a living.
When we look back at work norms through history we often think — “holy shit, why were we doing that?”
When our grandkids read about our 40 hour work-weeks (let’s be real more like 50 hours), I wonder if they’ll ask that same question.
I don’t think so… They’ll have better things to do on their Fridays off.
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