Four days

Hi,

This week saw the start of an experiment in a number of UK organisations: the four day working week. The important bit is folk are still paid for five days. That and it’s not where you do five days of hours in four. Been there, it was awful 😋

As someone who struggles to balance home commitments with work, and occasional bouts of, well, just feeling burned out by late Thursday, I could really fancy this approach of a shorter week.

I read last year where Microsoft had tried it in one of their offices in Japan. Part of the deal was to stay off social media at work and try to cut down on lengthy meetings. The outcome of this was both a happier and more productive workforce. Also, an outdoors firm – I think they sold bikes and hiking gear – noticed that while their staff came from that community, the hours they worked meant that they were not getting out and about. That firm shortened the working day to encourage and enable staff to lead a more physical and outdoorsy life.

For me, seeing our parents age and indeed as the kids are now mid to late teens, I’m reminded how quickly life can go by. That and being in the sandwich generation, where you’re still looking after your children, and now your parents need help as well. It isn’t always an easy balancing act.

I know a few folk who’ve changed their hours. Yes, there’s the classic part time option (and subsequent pay cut), but some do longer days to have every other Friday off. On listening to a friend, they were saying that for them, not working Mondays helped them mentally and physically. Another, that had Wednesday to help break up the week.

I don’t think we’re quite in the right place financially to drop a day, but I’m wondering if compressing my work week – seeing as I often work til gone six most nights – to gain a Friday off might help. Be even better if it coincided with Thursday night out 😉

Talking of Thursdays – see what I did there 🙂 – it was time for Chams again. I had packed earlier, but in my haste, I did not see the black corset laid against the black chair. Oops. Still, at least I remembered the camera this time. Perhaps I need to stick a check sheet on the wardrobe door. 🙂

As Wee Man has finished his first year at Uni, he’s at home more, so I took the chance to paint my toes before going in the shower. I noticed the polish was less glossy, but it hadn’t smudged. Certainly nothing a quick tip up at the Centre couldn’t fix.

The evening went well, I thought, and we had two new folk come along for their first visit. In fairness, it was more like two new trans folk and a friend who’d kindly come along for moral support. I do think that’s great to see when a friend does that.

Much conversation ensued, ranging from trans stuff, family life, much nerdery about sci-fi and film (happy to hold my hand up on that), and good humour too.

Seeing friends again – including someone who’d been absent for a bit due to health ❤️ – helped put a spring in my step. Well, it was that or my comfy Birkies 😉

L x

10 Comments

  1. That’s really heartening to hear that you had some folk attend this time with a friend, or perhaps an LGBT+ ally, even if they might not consciously recognise and describe themselves that way. It’s more about what you do than how you label yourself.
    LGBT+ Allyship is much in mind at present as we go into Pride Month and for which I’m drafting a presentation document on Allyship in the workplace. And remembered just how much I hate Powerpoint.
    I’m undecided on the 4 or 5 day week. It’s still the same number of hours after all, just parcelled out in different chunks. Some might welcome a longer weekend, others might prefer shorter days. And then you have to contend with how new working arrangements clash with company expectations of core hours if you want to start a couple of hours earlier so you can leave at the same time in the evening , or with support cover (“We are sorry, there’s no one in on Friday, your problem will have to wait until next Monday unless you can sort it yourself.”) It was that latter expectation that kyboshed our department’s plan to move to flexible hours.

    1. “…more about what you do than how you label yourself.”

      Very much that, yes. The actions and the story, I think. A label may help as a shortcut, but often, I think they (labels) can be restrictive. Good luck with the presentation. Oh, I would recommend ‘kind eyes’ (looking to a person with kindness as an ally) and stay curious via open questions, so you can understand.

      Yeah, the four days thing, I guess with office work that’s fairly self contained, it may be easier to implement. All systems have winners and losers, unfortunately. I think we may need to think about shifts, rather than ‘always Monday off’, but I do think it’s more important to focus on getting stuff done, rather than the current presenteeism we have. Long hours kill productivity, IMHO.

  2. I thought Chams went very well, it was an enjoyable night.

    As for four day weeks, by rights we all of us work too long. Having a floating day off for staff would probably work really well. It would take time to administer properly, but getting paid a bit more per hour (or salaried) would be one of the better solutions available to us as a society and culture. Can’t see it happening though, we’ve all gone hard in to the Protestant Work Ethic thing where we assume that everyone must be productive all of the time etc etc. She says, well aware she very much is part of the problem!

    1. Can’t we ‘take back control’ of our working lives and ‘regain the sovereignty of our productivity’? 😋

      I forget which expert said ‘survival is not mandatory’ and they were speaking about businesses failing. We’ve seen a number of walking dead companies disappear as their old model for work no longer, well, worked. Online shopping hammered the high street (travel costs, time poor shoppers, price rises, convenience, etc) and cinemas have had to up their game due to streaming. I wonder if the organisations that embrace more modern working patterns, will displace the dinosaurs?

      Oh, and yes, Chams was indeed a good night out.

  3. When I was an employee I managed in the end to get to work at home on Mondays. It made a big difference because that Monday morning shock to the system was avoided and home time could ramp up gradually and gently to work time. But being paid for 5 days to do 4 sounds good, though! You don’t get more productive staff by making them work long days; companies that have concentrated the working day into 6-7 hours (or countries that keep kids in school for just 5 hours) tend to see higher production overall and more motivated, less stressed staff. In my view, the homeworking that was so characteristic of Covid lockdowns should be maintained for some of the week for as many people as possible, for their own work/life balance and to cut down on daytime traffic and its emissions.

    Glad you had another good Chams session.

    Sue x

    1. Listening to friends talk about work – yes, I have cis friends. I’m so modern and inclusive 😉 – a number of them talk about two days in the office, and more time working remotely. I’m currently just working from home (family health reasons) and I’m really noticing my brain packs up about 5pm. I foolishly push on until gone six, as I’m trying to get a number of things sorted. That’s just my personal experience and I wonder who else finds it too?

      Anyway, fingers crossed for moving to a more enlightened work pattern.

  4. Found your blog via comments you left on Hannah McKnight’s Blog: “Ask Hannah” I’ve spent a bit going through your many years of writing. It’s always refreshing and encouraging to know “I’m not the only one.”
    Wishing you All The Best

    1. Hi Erin. Thanks for dropping by and following the blog. Yeah, there’s been a few posts over the years. 🙂

      To your comment about not being the only one, that’s a large part of why I started blogging.

  5. When the US went into remote working during Covid, as the Facility Manager, I was the one (and only) person who went into the HQ office everyday for the first several months of Covid. It was a bit surreal as there were normally over 100 people at our office location. While the US began easing the restrictions, our company kept a voluntary work-from-home option in place for 18 months. Since then, they have adopted a “Hybrid Work Policy,” allowing employees to work remotely 2 days a week if their job duties can support it and their manager approves.
    I manage 11 offices across the US so I have been able to enjoy the flexibility of working remotely. I suppose if anything good came out of Covid it’s that it expedite or advanced the remote work movement among many companies that were otherwise reluctant and it has also spurred the movement towards shortening the work week.
    Likewise, I think Covid awakened a lot of the working population who realized that life is too short and precious and many are seeking employment with greater flexibility.
    However, on the days that I work from home, much like Lynn, I find myself working longer hours. Our company has flexible start times and regardless if I’m going to the office or working from home, I start at my normal time of 7:00 am . On the days I’m at the office I leave work at 4:00 pm to beat traffic (I drive 40 miles one way) and be able to enjoy the evening at home.
    When I work from home I often find myself working well past my normal quitting time of 4:00 pm. I think to myself “I’d spend the next hour driving home and I’m already home so why not keep plugging away.” Many times my wife will arrive home at 5:30 and I’m still at my desk working.
    I also find I’m more productive when I’m working from home as there are fewer interruptions, be it those who want to pop by my desk and chat for a while, or getting caught up in conversation whilst getting a cup of tea/coffee in the break area.
    I too am curious if others have the same experiences. As for the 4 day work week, I wonder if we would benefit from it or if we’d pay for it financially (i.e. companies increasing prices of goods/services to offset the loss of production and so forth).
    I’m dating myself but I remember my father telling me when the UK still had the 44 hour work week where most employees had to work 4 hours on a Saturday morning. Earlier this year I interviewed with a company here in the US that is Austrian based/owned. The HR Rep told me they follow the Austrian work week where they only work 4 hours every Friday-everyone heads home at lunchtime. Sadly, I didn’t get the job 🙁
    But it makes me think that moving towards a four day work week might be the natural progression. Sorry for such a lengthly reply but it was an interesting topic

    1. No worries about the long reply, it’s quite a complex and interesting subject. I remember secondary school (so for kids 11 to 18) and one teacher talking about classes on Saturday. An extra half day to make up for the half day ‘lost’ as you had an afternoon of sport. Luckily, that was not on the curriculum in the 80s. F*** that noise 😉

      Re productivity, as someone who needs space to think and ‘get their head down’, not being in a noisy, open plan office is a massive win for me. If I’m writing code or a guide on something, it takes me time to get into that zone. Sadly, that focus is easily lost by interruption, recycling means for some work, being in my own space means I get much more done. Plus, if I’m calling others, I’m not interrupting folk on nearby desks.

      I am hopeful that a shorter week will help organisations see the difference between presenteeism and productivity. I’m hearing from friends that some of their jobs are now more about results, than putting in the hours. However, that may down to the type of job most of the folk I know, do.

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