For over six months, I have worked four days a week, Monday through Friday, and enjoy a 3-day weekend. I am very fortunate that my current employer, and my team, enable me to do this. A flex schedule is something available to many, but few take advantage of this.
I also work from home and have been doing that full-time since 2014. It took a lot of effort to get used to working from home, especially when you have children and your spouse also works from home. But after some struggle and adjustment, it works. The current flex schedule makes working from home even better. It opens up many opportunities to travel with the family, practice more hobbies, or maybe spend more time on existing hobbies.
Working four days a week instead of five took a while to adjust as well. I still have to fight the need to check my work email, Slack, etc. I still feel guilty for doing this, and while my output and quality haven’t been affected negatively, it is still hard to fully enjoy having Fridays off. But why? I think it has been engraved into my mind that to be productive and fair with your employer and co-workers, you need to work at least five days a week.
Working only four days a week instead of five has opened many opportunities for my family and me. For example, we’ve been able to travel to visit our older kids who live in New York City more often than before. We can take long weekend trips to places like Vancouver, Portland, and even California (we live in Seattle). Having Fridays off has given me the additional time to pursue other interests, such as writing and photography.
Working four days a week instead of five also gives me more time to relax and do nothing. It makes me start the week with more energy, a fresher mind, and enthusiasm every week. In other words, the burnout might still be there, but it is much less than before.
The future of work might be people working at any time and any day as they seem necessary. But while we get there, I think adopting a three-day weekend is feasible for most companies and jobs. Maybe we are on the brink of changing the workweek standard from five days to four weeks. In my experience, it will be better for everyone. It will give families more time to spend with each other, more time for people to pursue hobbies and other activities not related to their jobs, an opportunity to travel more, etc.
A little bit of history… In 1908, a New England cotton mill instituted the first five-day workweek in the United States so that Jewish workers would not have to work on the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. In 1926, Henry Ford began shutting down his automotive factories all Saturday and Sunday due to pressures stemming from the October Revolution, which witnessed the ruling class persecuted for not giving the laborers dignifying conditions. In 1929, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was the first union to demand and receive a five-day workweek. The rest of the United States slowly followed. Still, it was not until 1940, when a provision of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act mandating a maximum 40-hour workweek went into effect, that the two-day weekend was adopted nationwide.
Maybe it will be in this decade when more people and more companies adopt the three-day weekend as the new standard. It will be a step towards having a more flexible work schedule overall. It is what the future of work will require. Then, finally, people have more flexibility and more time to do more than just one job to earn an income. But only time will tell. I am excited about this.
Have a nice Saturday!