Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 3-Day Workweek

Many people are pressing for a 4 - Day workweek as part of efforts to decrease our collective gas consumption. The whole state government of Utah has even signed up!

First, I have to mention that I think while this would be a great idea and help slow down our carbon emissions, it's an interim solution, at best. Still, there are some excellent reasons for a 4-day workweek, including:

  • Gas savings
  • Decrease in pollution, auto accidents, and traffic congestion,
  • Savings on childcare (possibly),
  • Greater family time (possibly),
  • Less stress / more time to decompress
  • More time to focus on preparing for peak oil :)
  • And for businesses - about the same amount of productivity, with decreased electrical and operational costs.

I had a 3-day workweek for a year and LOVED it, although I was only paid 60% of normal salary (although I did get full health benefits). I used the rest of my workweek to start preparing for peak oil - improving the energy efficiency of the house, doing research, and starting my garden and orchard.

I would definitely recommend it. On the downside, there was the decreased pay, decreased visibility, and I accepted that I wouldn't be on track for big promotions. Of course, a 40% reduction in pay ain't peanuts. You have to have a pretty compelling reason to take a pay cut like that.

I was only able to bring myself to ask for this option because I seriously wanted to think about a different way of life, a way of life that would have less and less energy every year. When I asked my employer if I could have this type of arrangement, I found that my firm was incredibly flexible and helpful.

What is keeping us in our old ways, the 5 day a week grind? For many, possibly most people, it's the pay and the fear of losing health benefits, or company policy. Of course, if your employer went to 4 ten-hour days or 9 nine-hour days, with every other Friday off, that would not be an issue. Besides pay, there's also habit and fear of asking for something different.

SO think about it.... you could try a 4 day workweek, or maybe one day working from home, yourself. How could you rearrange your schedule to make it possible? Could you move meetings around? Could you teleconference in to meetings? Could you do most of your non-interactive work on the one day you work from home (a paperwork day?)? Could you get rid of non-productive time spent on e-mails or unnecessary meetings? Could you delegate?

Think seriously about it. The more people that ask, the more willing companies and governments will be to create 4-day weeks and telecommuting policies. If gas goes over $5, the reduced workweek may not only be a privelege, but a necessity.


Lewru said...

I would really like to do this, even if it meant a decrease in salary. However, in my type of employment organization, funding is per position and is jealously guarded. If I cut down my position, we would lose funding, which is no good for power structure. Bureaucratic narstiness.

Tara said...

I'm keeping my 5-day work week, but I'm about to start working three of those days from home. I can't wait! It's a good thing too, since I now have a 140-mile roundtrip commute. :(

Unfortunately my husband got the shaft and was denied ANY work from home time. Which is absurd because he has the kind of job he can do from anywhere, from his PHONE. Stupid. Nothing but micro-managing and old-school thinking.

Hausfrau said...

Tara - how absurd! Crossing my fingers they will rethink their decision soon....Hope you enjoy working from home!

Melissa said...

I think it's wonderful...I only work from home anyway, and I set my own hours. It's the best. The sad thing is that the people who would most benefit financially from these sorts of changes are in the types of industries that it's impractical for: waiters, fast food cooks, hotel cleaning staff, etc. So that's why I agree that it's great, but not a whole solution