A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Re: 4-day work week, I run an education non-profit and adopted new business hours: Monday 12pm to Friday 12pm to address the "Sunday night blues" that many of us felt and to give people a head start on their weekend. We thought this would be good for people's mental health and speculated that these might be the two periods of the week with lowest productivity. In practice, we often work through those hours anyway, but it definitely created a little space and slack in our otherwise hard-charging work culture
With "Block" scheduling more common these days, I think it could be done (or at least every other week you get three days. It might mean longer classes during the other four days because current public education rules specify "hours in class" as a metric for student success. Kind of a lame one but so be it.
I was a little weary at first when it came to reading this blog post. I didn't think that it would have so much information to offer like it does. This is a really good blog you've got Going on here. I really like how you just dive into so many controversial subjects and knock them out making them seem so objective and not so stressful. Thanks for sharing
I believe that your statement is true. However, companies would not be trying this experiment if they thought that their workers were operating at maximum efficiency. I work with many non-profit organizations and most of the employees can not work more and still remain sane. There are very long backlogs of clients to see. Could they be more efficient with better systems and training to use them, sure. But I don't think that the answer is fewer working hours. The same goes for teachers (I was one for a bit). This is why I think that other factors have to be considered before global adoption.
Thanks for the response and making me think and learn (hopefully).
I think that it depends on what type of work the company does? All those that bill by the hour or where the workers are already working flat out for 40 plus hours (I am thinking non profit and health care) I am not sure it would work. Each company would have to set up its own productivity metrics for each worker. Profitability can have many factors beyond worker productivity and may be a false positive.
Re four-day work week - I’m reminded of the lessons of the Hawthorne Effect and curious how the testing design avoids the same mistaken attribution of improved productivity to workplace changes. Assuming those controls are in place, then how do we optimize the answer in a way to guides other orgs? If four is better, what about 3? Maybe 4.5 is best... or four 10s... this is great work. Still, I’m curious about the design and lessons that would help others use the results and employees to understand why their job might or might not be a good fit vs. arbitrarily changing or taking the incentive to switch without knowing what they are doing or trading off.
It is troubling to see auto-generated legal briefs added to the growing list of hacked, hacky written material, from cover letters to doctor's notes. Automating authorship makes me think that the content of these documents was always mostly fluff, viewed by their preparers as inky hurdles valued more by length than by substance. ChatGPT could be an opportunity for us to ask why we were writing so much - but indeed so little - that we would outsource our minds, ideas, and perspectives to the soulless aggregate of those who wrote before us.