Tag Archives: Workplace Dynamics

Re-visiting the Four-Day Workweek

Part of the silver lining of experiencing a horrendous global pandemic has been people re-examining how they do things. I referenced Joe Pinsker’s article for The Atlantic last year, which is well worth a read if you haven’t checked it out already.

Well, Alex Christian over at the BBC has an article exploring what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and some of the challenges of moving to a four-day workweek. The main issue is making sure that expectations are managed for what workload can be done in four days, something that will need to be addressed workplace by workplace and worker by worker.

Four-day workweeks already exist for a lot of American workplaces thanks to Monday (and occasionally other weekday) holidays. And any veteran office denizen has seen their workplace try and cram 5 days’ worth of work into 32. Project managers often try and get people to think in terms of “32 hours” vs. “40 hours,” but veteran project managers will also tell you of the problems of getting people to acknowledge project schedule constraints (and the people who quip, “who works only 40 hours a week?” are invariably the ones who don’t have to pay overtime and watch for cost overruns on projects).

So it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Perhaps they’ll be another article for me to link to next year.

Time Off for Productive Behavior

In offices across the land, someone’s co-worker is making a remark that ‘it’s hump day.’ Wednesday. Just two more days after this.

But what if the weekend was only one more day away?

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936). Note to younger readers: workers are not always this happy.

Joe Pinsker over at The Atlantic does a deep dive into the move by several companies to reduce working days (and hours) down to four, but keeping the pay that had been allocated for five: effectively giving their employees an immediate 20% raise and more time off.

However, not content to simply point to the data that suggest this move has boosted productivity –and not just for white collar jobs– Pinsker goes further into the why we currently have a societal notion of the 5-day, 40-hour workweek, how business leaders railed against what we have now, and how economists and others saw a future society would naturally start working less hours per week because of the benefits of automation and efficiency.

It’s well worth a read.

Jobs, Mental Health, and the Malasch Burnout Inventory

The CDC announcement last week that vaccinated people could go all maskless all sorts of places has led to the inevitable realization for many of us that, “Oh, yeah. I guess we might be back in an office this summer.”

But even before then, I’m sure many of us have been contemplating more about what we want out of a job — along with wondering what is up with Zoom today.

So I found this article by Katie Heaney for The Cut to be illuminating. In fact, it feels like it could be a much larger piece… or perhaps deserving of a few follow-ups. But I’ll just leave you with the fact that we have a way to measure burnout and this seems like it should be rather relevant to the spiritual disillusionment of humanity in the early part of the 21st century… and stuff.

More About Work as Religion

Continuing this week’s series of video posts, I came across this video from The Atlantic that touches back to an earlier article I linked to about work becoming people’s faith.

I’ve long been interested in work-life balance and finding joy or at least satisfaction in work, perhaps because, as mentioned in the video below, conventional wisdom is no longer satisfied with jobs or, to a certain extent, no longer even satisfied with careers. No, it has to be a calling.

And when you read things about “ikigai” of just finding flow, it seems like a calling is not that far-fetched a goal. But it so clearly is, because we’re just not set up for a surplus of those types of jobs. In fact, perhaps we’re asking too much of our jobs. Take a look at the video and consider.

Time, Autonomy, and Value Found in Work

I recently read an article by Kara Baskin about a 2016 workplace study. The professors (from MIT and the University of Minnesota) were experimenting with elements of the oft-invoked, but not always defined “work-life balance.”

The link above is to the article, not the study itself and is worth the quick read, even if the conclusions don’t necessarily come as a shocker. For example, having more control over one’s schedule including to be able to accommodate the ups and downs of everyday life is a positive for workers. Being aware of the number of meetings a worker had also came into focus.

In many cases, this reminded me of Drive by Daniel Pink and Finding Flow, the less academic summation of some of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research. People like levels of autonomy and to develop mastery over much of what they do.

I don’t begrudge the study going over familiar ground, however. Given the propensity for organizations to ‘maximize synergistic innovations’ or opaque initiatives, it’s nice to add to the body of work that pushes them to think of their people.

Working with Candor

It could be finally getting around to hearing the Ray Dalio interview on Freakanomics where he talks about honesty, it could be some of the workplace diplomacy I’ve done over the past year or three, but this article by David Vallance about how Kim Scott approaches workplace communication felt very topical and applicable.