It’s time to make a major change in the American workplace. It’s time to make the move to three-day weekends. For everyone. Forever.
And I don’t mean working four 10-hour days, either. Eight hours is enough. Thirty-two hours is plenty to devote to production – whatever your job is – in any given week. I’m not just saying this because I want everyone to have an extra day off, either; more and more experts are giving credence to the idea that a four-day workweek results in happier, more productive employees and a higher quality of life for everyone.
In 1965, a Senate subcommittee predicted Americans would work an average of 14 hours per week total by the year 2000. Yeah, more like 14 hours per day, right? The experts knew that technological advances would make workers more productive than ever, and so they figured there would be no need to work so many hours when so much could be done in so little time.
What they didn’t account for was increased demand for total production. If a worker can be more productive, that doesn’t mean that worker can go home sooner. It means they’re expected to produce more. They also didn’t account for new marketing strategies that convinced Americans they had to buy new things they never knew existed or thought they needed before. The American lifestyle has become too expensive to go home after 14 hours. At the same time, middle class wages have stagnated since the 1980s, which means inflation has dealt most workers a double-whammy. You “need” more, but you can’t afford more. Your employers need more production, so no matter how fast you can work you need to do more so they can afford to live.
The average American works 1,700 hours per year, 200 more than the average French worker, and 300+ more than the average German. One could look at those figures as indicative of the American spirit: We will outwork our “competitors” to maintain a global edge. But it’s inaccurate. Consider this: Singapore’s workers average 2,300 of working hours per year – 600 more than the average American – yet don’t seem to be making a play as a global economic threat to the American lifestyle.
The state of Utah famously implemented a four-day workweek for many of its employees, and reported a boost in overall productivity. The company 37Signals switches to four-day workweeks from May through October – and reports that better work gets done in four days, not five. And everyone can see how much easier it would be to attract top talent to a company that requires only four days of work each week.
The point is that fifth day has no point. You can add another eight hours every single day, but it will not boost overall productivity. It actually has a negative effect.
My challenge to you is this: try a four-day workweek, if just for a limited time, and see how you and your staff respond. Measure productivity and track employee morale and happiness. See how your business runs on a four-day workweek. I’m positive you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results – and I know you’ll enjoy your three-day weekends. Forever.