I work a four-day week now.
It started with the first lockdown. Actually, for a while there, I was working just two days a week while we took a “wait and see” attitude at Clearleft to see how The Situation was going to affect work. We weathered that storm, but rather than going back to a full five-day week I decided to try switching to four days instead.
This meant taking a pay cut. Time is literally money when it comes to work. But I decided it was worth it. That’s a privileged position to be in, I know. I managed to pay off the mortgage on our home last year so that reduced some financial pressure. But I also turned fifty, which made me think that I should really be padding some kind of theoretical nest egg. Still, the opportunity to reduce working hours looked good to me.
The ideal situation would be to have everyone switch to a four-day week without any reduction in pay. Some companies have done that but it wasn’t an option for Clearleft, alas.
I’m not the only one working a four-day week at Clearleft. A few people were doing it even before The Situation. We all take Friday as our non-work day, which makes for a nice long three-day weekend.
What’s really nice is that Friday has been declared a “no meeting” day for everyone at Clearleft. That means that those of us working a four-day week know we’re not missing out on anything and it’s pretty nice for people working a five-day week to have a day free of appointments. We have our end-of-week all-hands wind-down on Thursday afternoons.
I haven’t experienced any reduction in productivity. Quite the opposite. There may be a corollay to Parkinson’s Law: work contracts to fill the time available.
At one time, a six-day work week was the norm. It may well be that a four-day work week becomes the default over time. That could dovetail nicely with increasing automation.
I’ve got to say, I’m really, really liking this. It’s quite nice that when Wednesday rolls around, I can say “it’s almost the weekend!”
A three-day weekend feels normal to me now. I could imagine tilting the balance even more over time. Maybe every few years I could reduce the working by a day or half a day. So instead of going from a full-on five-day working week straight into retirement, it would be more of a gentle ratcheting down over the years.