Some of you know that my NROP pieces are usually published on Monday mornings (US time zones), so it might be a bit surprising to you to see this post published on a Tuesday. No, I did not mess up my days (at least not this time, anyway). I assure you that there is a very valid reason behind it.
It is because I felt like I needed more leisure time before sitting down to write a blog post. Even though blogging is not what I do for a living, and I definitely do not consider it work (in the traditional sense, anyway), sometimes I just feel more of a pull in a different direction, away from writing. Instead of drafting a post, I decided to have a few drinks, watch some fireworks, and just enjoy the beautiful weather that we have had these past two days (way too much rain before that… and probably a lot more to come, too).
For those of you outside of the United States of America – on Sunday, July the 4th, we celebrated our Independence Day. When I get a new calendar at the end of the year, the first thing I do is check specific dates (like Holidays, Birthdates, etc.) to see how much time off we could get. When I saw that 4th of July was on a Sunday, I almost wept a several months ago. (Christmas and New Year are on a Saturday this year!!!) Fortunately, many employers are gracious enough to give you a Friday off if a national holiday falls on a Saturday and a Monday off if it falls on a Sunday. That means that I had a three-day weekend (Sat-Mon) this weekend.
This kind of set-up was absolutely perfect for me, because it allowed me to do some things that I felt like I had to (some chores, visit to the gym, and social obligations), but it also gave me the chance to really relax (go to the movies, read, go for a walk, etc.). I have said it before, and I will say it again – it is SO nice to have three days off. It is good for the mind and the body. But, it does not only benefit me. It also benefits my employer, because I will be in the most optimal state of mind at work today. I will be firing on all cylinders, taking care of things in an effective and efficient manner. It is a win-win.
It often makes me wonder how people take care of certain things if they work full-time five days a week. Adulting requires you to do certain things that you cannot do afterhours, like renewing your driver license or car registration. (Yes, I know you can now do many of those things online, but if you encounter an issue, you have to go in. I speak from experience.) Some places are not open on weekends. What do you do then? I have been pretty lucky with my work in the sense that I have always been able to take some time off here and there when I needed it. Some jobs were more flexible than others. What do others do? If their bosses/ schedules are not that flexible? They have to take a day off, hope that whatever they are trying to do is resolved within that day, and then say good-bye to that day they could have used for their vacation. It really can be brutal.
A few people that I know enjoy working Tuesday to Saturday. That way they can relax on Sunday and do their chores on Monday, maybe even encountering less traffic than the rest of us do on Saturdays when we are out and about. They like it that way and I can definitely see the appeal.
When the COVID-19 pandemic rolled around and many of us began working from home, I felt like taking part in a work revolution. We were never going back to the office, saving us commute time. I could spend two hours a day on ANYTHING! And the employers seemed to be happy to have their workers spend more time with family, and/or doing things they liked they did not have time for before. Of course, that is all already forgotten now. Apparently the company culture is more important than the family/ house culture. But, who is surprised?
While many places now offer working from home as one of their benefits, other employers do not seem to care, which I think they will regret in the long run as they continue to lose talent to the more progressive (?) companies. We revert back to the office setting. So much for a ‘revolution,’ which leads me to believe that as much as we talk about having to innovate, we are very resistant to change.
While Japan is pushing for a four-day workweek, I do not see that happening in the US in the foreseeable future. There has been SO much research proving that we are not productive during all of the 8h of work every day, but no one seems to care. If someone does the same amount of work in 6h that they do in 8, should they not get two hours off? I do not mean for their pay to get cut, though. In fact, I would reward their productivity.
What surprised me was that the initiative in Japan is being backed by the government. Employers will not have to implement a 4-day workweek, but they will have the option to do so. The article quoted that Microsoft Japan saw a 40% increase in productivity and a decrease in electricity consumption in 2019 when it implemented a 4-day workweek on a trial basis.
During one of a recent lectures I attended, the speaker mentioned that they did not think work-life balance was possible in the profession they were discussing (doctors). Instead, they mentioned integration of these two worlds as something desirable and attainable. While I do believe there are differences between professions, I do think that integration is an interesting word when it comes to a work-life balance. I am aware that not every job can be done on a flexible schedule. But those that can, should. “That is not fair to all those that have to work specific hours and there is no wiggle room!” You might say. Yes, I see your point and that is something that can definitely be discussed separately. BUT, not making some lives better just because you cannot help everyone is not a good enough argument.
Once might say that once we give everyone a third day off, we will soon be asked for a four-day weekend. It probably is true. The more you get, the more you want. That is human nature. Greed. Even though I am aware of that, I still chose to believe that we should give it a try and see where things could go. We worry about people abusing the system, but if we started to punish those and reward those who are not, we might just discover something beautiful.
Make your employees happy and they will make you happy! That is the simple solution to achieving maximum productivity while allowing your employees to maintain a work-life balance.
Employers, it is all on you.
Employees, I hope you only get to work for employers who treat you right.
- Do you use non-electronic calendars?
- What do you use them for?
- Is there a specific type you get? (with dogs, with cooking recipes, with room for notes)
- Did you have Monday off? (if you live in the USA)
- How did you spend your 4th of July weekend? (If you did not celebrate Independence Day, feel free to share how you spent your weekend, anyway.)
- What do you think of a four-day workweek?
- How are you able to get everything done if you work full-time 5 days a week?
- Do you have flexible working hours?
- Would you prefer a shorter-work day or a shorter work-week?
- Would you prefer every Friday or Monday off (in addition to Saturday and Sunday)?
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