Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Four Day Work Week?

The latest proposal from the left wing of Britain's Labour Party is a four-day work week. I am interested but dubious. I spent an hour last night reading about this and I learned that a few American companies have tried 4-day, 32-hour work weeks. Some studies show they make workers more productive, but not enough to make up for the lost 8 hours. But I have to say the state of the scholarship looks primitive to me. Thoughts?


Shadow said...

How about 4/10s -- four day work week, 10 hours per day? That way no disagreements over pay, which 4/8s is sure to cause.

Will workers be less productive? It will depend, but I suspect everything will work out fine. We adapted to 5/8 fine.


Where feasible, like in IT or businesses with Intranet and Internet, let your workers work from home several days a week. The Internet, increasing connectivity, apps like Skype and Instant Messaging, and mobile phones make this possible. Transitioning could require start up costs (portals, laptops, additional security measures, etc.), but it could also be worth it. Not having to travel to and from work 3 or 4 days each week frees up an employee's time. We did this where I worked, and what we found was employees actually worked longer when they worked from home. Big morale booster. Employees could even work 4/10s and spend no more time working than they did when they had to travel to work to work.

The most resistance comes from managers who feel they need their employees on site to make sure they are working. These are managers who don't know how to manage by milestones and deliverables.

PS: When on such a work schedule, you will probably have to work when the office is closed or inclement weather closes down the streets. You can also work when ill without worry of infecting co-workers.

PPS: Drawback: Team fragmentation and loss of togetherness. Business's need to watch this.

PPPS: Second Drawback, not all jobs can be worked from home. Could cause jealousy problems.

pootrsox said...

My daughter's work involves graphics programs used to create educational materials for a major insurance company.

Until recently, her primary co-worker was located in Wisconsin or Minnesota; she's in Connecticut. They communicated constantly via voice and shared computer screens.

Her new department (it was a vertical movement for her) allows most employees to work from home Mondays and Fridays. Since moving to that department, her work load has increased considerably due to an unrealistic project that she walked into on day 1. Her boss actually told her not to bother to come into work, since she would be more productive w/o the distractions at the office and the road rage of commuting :)

I have been in the same room when she's had conferences with department members via phone or skype. She's able to continue to work during such conferences.

I do not see "team fragmentation and loss of togetherness" being a problem at her workplace.

There certainly are jobs that cannot be "phoned in"!! Public school teaching is one of them :) I would never have been happy to be assigned to one of those "teach kids in three districts via interconnectedness" projects. I needed to see each kid's face, to sense the tone of the class so as to adjust on the fly, etc etc etc.

Shadow said...


What do you think of online schooling?

pootrsox said...

In general, Shadow, I am not a fan. It's great for things like "how to make a bias binding for a quilt." It's not so good for exploring abstract and complex ideas.

My biggest objection *as an eduator* is the inability of the teacher to see and interact directly with the students. This is especially vital for pre-K-12 education and I suspect for intro college/university courses as well.

As a student, I would be frustrate by the inability to ask a question as the instructor makes a point. Much online schooling relies on passive observation on the students' part, even if the teaching is done with energy and many visual supports and downloadable supplements.

But I have to confess that other than "how to make a bias binding for a quilt," I've not participated in online education, merely observed it in operation.