I think it’s time to throw out the five-day workweek. What about you?
We may all be a bunch of lemmings, workers and managers alike, following a system that has become obsolete for many working Americans. Why couldn’t there be a three-day workweek, or a seven-day workweek twice a month? You could think up any new model, go crazy!
Most U.S. employers, pubic and private, have operated in the same manner and few have thought to question it…until Utah.
The state instituted a four-day workweek for its public sector workers in 2008, and a story in the New York Times today talks about how other states and local municipalities are pondering a similar move but naysayers want to squash the ground-breaking effort.
Utah decided to go four-day in order to save money for the state and also to cut down on energy costs. But by changing the rules of the workplace game so drastically, the state’s legislators have provided a new mode of thinking for all of us.
Our society came up with the five-day workweek in the 1920s, according to Robert Whaples, an economics professor with Wake Forest University, and he’s still scratching his head over why it’s persists to this day. In an article he wrote:
The five-day work week with an eight-hour workday came to be seen as the norm over a half a century ago and it is still seen as the norm today. This development caught a lot of attentive observers by surprise — for example, John Maynard Keynes in 1930 predicted that by 2030 a fifteen hour work week would be sufficient for all but the most extreme workaholics. The stabilization of the work week at forty hours continues to defy easy explanation.
So why, after all this time, do we continue to operate under a five-day workweek mindset? We need to delve into this question with both feet. I know, it’s scary to change the status quo but the status quo ain’t working for many working stiffs.
If we want things like job-sharing, flexible work hours, and a true openness to work alternatives for working people then we have to start with the biggest target — the standard workweek.
What’s your take? Would you be happier working four days, or 15 days straight with the rest of the month off?