Flexible working. Feminism. Fun.

Should we all work four-day weeks?

Should we all work four-day weeks?

What would you do with the gift of an extra day?

This question was posed by Kirsty Wark at her recent talk advocating for a four-day work week at TEDx Glasgow. She argued that working shorter weeks makes staff more productive, improves staff retention, makes people happier and gives them time for self-development.

All stuff I believe, obviously. Because I’m one of those four-day week workers.

I can’t say it feels much like a gift – I did take a hefty pay cut for the privilege of having a day off – but working four days a week is great, and (for the most part), I’m a great example of why.

Let’s address some of Kirsty’s main points:

Increased productivity

I don’t think I’ve ever been more productive as when I realised that I didn’t have time to waste. I decline pointless meetings, focus harder and work smarter, and let me tell you – my work gets done. People often forget that I’m technically part time because I’m smashing deadlines like I’m the Hulk.

Productivity isn’t just about getting stuff done – it’s about getting the RIGHT stuff done. I’ve stopped doing a lot of things that don’t add much value, and outsourced other things to people who can do them better. Knowing that I have eight fewer hours than everyone else means that I’m empowered to hunker down, get the work done, then fuck off at 5pm on Thursday.

Science says that working longer hours actually makes us less productive – plus it can lead to long-term health issues and an increase in errors – so why do most companies still expect it?

Improves staff retention

A big part of the reason I’m still with my current employer is because of the flexibility that I’ve been given – including that Friday off.

Yup, Friday is my non-working day. Because is there any other day when you’d less like to be at work?

Makes people happier

I’m happy that Fridays mean spending time with my daughter. I’m happy that I’m not paying for full-time childcare (which would be literally cost more than half my paycheck). I’m happy that Friday mornings are relaxed, as opposed to the mad rush to get the kid dressed/fed/to nursery by 8:15 Monday to Thursday. I’m happy that on the rare occasion that Friday is a glorious, sunny day, I get to spend it at the park or the beach instead of in the office.

Suck it, desk jockeys.

Time for self-improvement

Given that my “day off” is spent running after a toddler, I can’t say that leaves much time for…well, me. If I truly had the gift of an extra day – a day that was just for me – I’d self-improve the shit out of myself. Write that novel that I abandoned ages ago. Volunteer. Exercise. Finally learn to bake cakes that don’t look like they were made by a drunk toddler.

So yeah, I love the idea of a four-day work week – but I think revolutionizing the way we work requires an even more radical approach. Let’s forget eight hour days Monday-Thursday, because even that’s missing the point. In our knowledge-based economy, many jobs can be done from anywhere, at any time. Let’s give employees and employers the freedom to shape working patterns that work for everyone, however unconventional they may be. That might mean working during school hours only, or working a few extra hours on the weekend so you can to attend a weekday uni course. Early birds getting their work done by 2pm and night owls not starting until then.

It’s time we started changing the way we talk about work.

Man at a desk smiling with a post-it note on his head that says 'Be Happy'

Bringing up Georgia
Motherhood The Real Deal



15 thoughts on “Should we all work four-day weeks?”

  • Doug used to do a 4 day week, it was great! I wish he could go back to doing that, it was lovely because he could spend some time each with with E while she was very young on a day when things weren’t busy. It’s good for catching up on life admin too. I’m a big fan.

  • When I go back to work after maternity leave this time I’m dropping down to 4 days a week. I think it’s good for families as well as better for the everyday worker. xx

  • Absolutely! Weekend day 1 chores, weekend day 2 winding down back to work means no real relaxation day. A 3rd weekend day would mean people would relax far easier and this would improve health both mental and physical and in turn would save money for the government too. The thing is that this should be done on same salary because I expect you do at least the same as you did 5 days butmore effectively. However, employers are just nowhere near this at the moment. Fingers crossed one day…

  • Yes! 4 day weeks would be amazing… that said, I’m not working at the moment and would mean less time for my studies so I would have to cram more hours into the 4 days I had which probably wouldn’t work. I think it’s definitely situation dependent but I’m all for it 😁

    Shevy
    http://moonsomnia.com
    #coolmumclub

  • I’ve always thought a four day work week for everyone (and loads more flexible working) would be perfect. So many places are stuck in traditional patterns, especially local government where I used to work. Now I work with my husband in our own business it’s amazing how much more productive I can be in fewer hours! #coolmumclub

  • Although I work for myself, I try to work a four day week and can really vouch for the productivity thing – you try to get a lot more done knowing you will have Friday off and anyway, most people are burnt out by Friday anyway aren’t they!? Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub with this! I am totally being the idea as you can tell x

  • I would have loved the option of a 4 day week when I was working. I also agree with what you say about lots of jobs being suitable for home work. I’ve seen so many jobs like that and it makes me really frustrated when I see that they are office based with no chance of flexi-work. 🙁 #coolmumclub

  • Although I should add that now I work from home I tend to stick to a 4 day week. I have freedom to spread my hours how I like and I love that. So I guess I created my own flexi-working!

  • Yasss! I am so in support of your argument here. I think flexible working patterns are totally the way forward. It’s so wrong that we are made to feel bad for asking to do the same job at set hours, as long as we get our work done, why does it matter? Plus employers just need to be more flexible anyway, because the fact is, people have kids! Deal with it! #fortheloveofblog

  • I think the theory is great but I took a £9k pay decrease to work here in my current job full time (35 hours vs 31 hours in my previous job), so dropping down a day would decrease it even more. I go to my job not only for the money and to use my brain (and avoid doing housework which I’d be expected to do more of if I worked less), but to be able to socialise in downtime, meet like minded people and talk about intelligent things other than mum or farming stuff which would be what I’d only have to talk about without it with non-work friends.

    Our work is pretty good on flexibility. I start work earlier 3 days, mix up the length of lunches, and finish in time to do school pick up on Fridays. Other people work part time, compressed hours, or 9 day fortnights and we can work from home when needed/dependent on role. We also have flexi time and it doesn’t take much for me to build up 5 hours for a Friday off. And a lot of meetings are now online/calls.

    But all of this makes it very hard to do your job when you’ve got people only working 10-2, 3 days a week. It means more meetings are put at lunchtimes which I hate, a nightmare when you need to get project teams together because everyone’s hours are different, and other people end up working late. I’m quite good about not putting in tonnes of meetings, but fully flexible working makes working life hard, and often those on flexible hours end up having to be flexible and swapping round days or dialling into key meetings that aren’t on the days they’re working.

    #coolmumclub

  • I’m totally in favour of the 4 day week. I had to leave my job because I was working 4 days and they needed me to work full time. I just couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on that 1 extra day a week – it was just incomprehensible! I worked part time in various jobs for 2 years then my old employer came back to me and offered me a job working full time, but from home! I have the best of both worlds, I can work the hours I want so if I want to have an extra day in the week then I can! #coolmumclub

  • I’m totally in favour of the 4 day week. I had to leave my job because I was working 4 days and they needed me to work full time. I just couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on that 1 extra day a week – it was just incomprehensible! I worked part time in various jobs for 2 years then my old employer came back to me and offered me a job working full time, but from home! I have the best of both worlds, I can work the hours I want so if I want to have an extra day in the week then I can! #coolmumclub

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