Should we switch to a four-day workweek?

Should we switch to a four-day workweek?

Hey Friends,

I hope you had a great Labor Day. When I was a kid, Labor Day meant the last day of summer vacation. While it was a nice day of “not working”, it was also a day of dread, knowing that the freedom of summer was coming to an end.

That’s definitely the case for women in Afghanistan this week, as the Taliban on Tuesday announced their formal interim government, and have already started forcefully cracking down on protests for women’s rights and free speech.

Summer vacation might be over in Texas as well, since Governor Greg Abbott signed bills putting restrictions on voting and abortion access, an effort sure to protect their red state status.

Speaking of things you have to do when you go back to school, Biden announced sweeping vaccine mandates yesterday, an American tradition. In line with that tradition, lots of people are mad.

For me, Labor Day is just an extra Sunday with more food preparation. Fortunately, I’ve had no additional appliances break this week (as the industry intends), but I can’t say that’s the case for a reader replying to last week’s issue sharing his appliance experience.

Great stuff man, and like you I only had my toaster from when we got married. That was until late last year when it finally gave up the ghost and died (probably Covid related). My wife bought a new toaster that has lots of buttons, and we have already begun having problems with it. Maybe the real enemy is buttons. There’s probably some kind of golden ratio metric for deciding how many buttons is too many, and our new toaster has already reached that point. Have a great weekend! Sincerely, Toil with Technology

Obviously, he and I both needed a day off.

In honor of Labor Day this week I only worked four days. Last week I only worked three. And guess what…

I got the same amount of work done.

I may have even been a little bit more productive. Should we do this every week?

Let me share a story.

Jeans on Friday

My first job was an incredible job. One of the best jobs I could have had at that point in my life. It was a professional environment. People came in at 8:00, stayed until 5:00, and opened messages with phrases like “Per your request” and ended them with “regards”.

In addition to these rules, we also had a dress code. From Monday through Thursday we had to wear ties.

Our standard was to wear khakis or some form of cotton twill slacks with oxford shoes and a button down shirt, with a strip of fabric tied around one’s neck.

This was a very important rule. It portrayed a professional image to our customers. It demonstrated that we were team players, and that we took our work seriously.

But on Friday, we got to wear jeans. No tie was required. Tennis shoes often replaced the oxfords. Friday was great.

On Friday, the very important rules were no longer important.

But does that really make sense?

I would venture to guess that if the rules didn’t matter on Friday, they probably didn’t any other time either.

Once I determined that dress code didn’t matter, I wondered about everything else. Job descriptions, titles, long reports, work hours.

I’ve especially wondered about the standard work schedule. Why do we work five 8 hour days? Why not 6? Why not 4?

Maybe we’re just used to it, so we accept it.

How often do we accept something without reason, other than because everyone else does too?

The answer is ‘Everyday’

Every day, we hold to norms that we accept simply because it is the prevailing standard. Anything different feels incorrect or strange. Is it time to revisit the standards we’ve been taking for granted? In the case of work hours, should we judge people by the work they deliver or the temperature of their Herman Miller chair?

In my article this week, I talk about how Scotland is trying a 4 day workweek and Iceland already has. Iceland’s research results have been positive. People are reporting less burnout and better work-life balance. Companies reported the same or better productivity.

But this isn’t a new topic. This was a vision cast by the President of the United States, decades ago. Why did this idea end up in the burn pile?

Read the full article here to find out.

Speaking of Research

Almost two years ago, I wrote an article to this very email list titled Does this research make me look fat?. Often, research falls into the trappings of survivorship bias, where people only use the evidence that comes out the rear end of their study.

Survivorship bias is a term I learned from Jordan Ellenberg’s How To Not Be Wrong. I like the book, because, while it is not important to me to be right, I do want to know who is wrong.

Read the article here.

I’ll talk to you next week!

P.S. Do you have any feedback for me? I’d love to hear from you, and might share it in a future article. Also, it would mean a lot to me if you would consider sharing this with friends!

Bonus: a thread about how bad RFPs are.

Thanks for reading! -Daniel