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Old 10-02-2018, 05:57 PM   #1
Talon87
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Weekend Length

'No downside': New Zealand firm adopts four-day week after successful trial

This article has spurred the latest round of conversation about a four-day work week in the Western world versus the traditional five-day work week that most of us are familiar with. I had this conversation with an old boss of mine a long time ago. My argument went something like this:
  • on the one hand, I'd fucking love a three-day weekend; and I don't mind staying a piddly extra two hours on any given work day to secure that luxury
  • on the other hand, having worked many 10+ hour shifts in my time, I can honestly say that my productivity during hours 9 and 10 is even more pathetic than my productivity during hours 7 and 8, and thus I sincerely question whether it really is an "equivalent exchange" to say "4 shifts of 10 hours' duration = 5 shifts of 8 hours'".
I think the validity of my second bullet point greatly depends on a number of factors including and not limited to: individual differences in employees; the physical, mental, and emotional demands of the job; and the degree to which physical fatigue and mental acuity affect the end result of the job. For example, a "whoopsie" during brain surgery whilst holding a scalpel is quite different from the same "whoopsie" during cooking in a restaurant whilst dropping a spatula on the kitchen floor. A carrying error in the arithmetic of a hardware store is quite different from a carrying error in the arithmetic of sending a man to the Moon.

Another problem with 10-hour shifts (or longer) is the logistics in daily meal preparation and consumption. Someone who works 9am-5pm already has to have breakfast riiiiight before they get into work; then has to have lunch strategically around 12pm-2pm at work; and then has to race home at 5, start cooking, and dinner is not ready to eat until 6 or even 7pm (if it's a two-hour prep time meal). And this is for somebody who wants to cook and eat at home. Now imagine making it a 10-hour shift from 9am-7pm. There's just no way that most Americans would go home those four days and cook. Almost everyone is either going to a) eat leftovers strategically cooked during the three-day weekend, b) eat something at home that can be warmed up in under 10 minutes, or else c) eat out. Ain't nobody coming home at 7pm, due back in to work the next day at 9, and eager to spend the next two hours cooking a two-hour meal that'll take until 9 at night before it's ready to be eaten.

So I dunno. Selfishly, I'd adore 4x10 over 5x8 because I'd adore having three full days off work every week. But 1) I don't see how employers would be enthusiastic about their employees' productivity decline during that four-hour stretch from Hour 7 thru Hour 10, and 2) even selfishly I feel like there are still benefits to the 5x8, e.g. more time available on weeknights to cook, partake in hobbies, or hang out with peers. Still, I feel like if I were to vote today, I'd vote for 4x10 and would solve my cooking dilemma with the aforementioned strategic overprepping on the weekends so that I have plenty of leftovers going into the work week.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:31 PM   #2
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The original article is saying it's 4x8, not 4x10. Lowering the total hours per week is harmful for part-time workers because they can no longer work more than 32 hours or be put into full-time status. This means for work that isn't worth full time benefits, those people will lose their jobs or have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet.

This is comfier for government workers who are not in profit-motivated careers but is hurtful for enterprises who now have to dish out more benefits for less productivity. Most likely, part time will suffer most of all because of it.

I agree that a 10-hour workday isn't a good way to operate although it really depends on what industry you're in. In the hospital 10 hours on a night-shift might not be so bad because demand is hit-or-miss. But if you're a computer engineer or something that requires on the clock critical thinking it sucks.

The ideal is a 6 hour workday with three 15 minute unpaid breaks and 2 weekends. The closest we've come to this is France who has 7 hour workdays.
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Last edited by Doppleganger; 10-02-2018 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 10-02-2018, 09:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger View Post
The original article is saying it's 4x8, not 4x10. Lowering the total hours per week is harmful for part-time workers because they can no longer work more than 32 hours or be put into full-time status. This means for work that isn't worth full time benefits, those people will lose their jobs or have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet.
One of the reasons I avoided the comparison. 4x8 =/= 5x8 no matter how you slice it; it's apples and oranges. 4x10 at least = 5x8 in the hours sense, and we can dive from there into the compare-and-contrast of longer work days + longer weekends vs. shorter work days + shorter weekends. That for me is really the crux of the debate.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:20 AM   #4
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Productivity definitely wanes on longer days.

My contract at the moment is 45 hours in an industry where the first staff member can arrive at around 8am and the last one leave at 1am. Some days that's me at both ends and I can tell you that even with a couple hours off in the middle (typically work 8-3 5-12 or 5-1 on those split days) my ability to concentrate and make intelligent decisions goes downhill over the second half of the shift.

I briefly dropped to "part time" (80% of my hours, so 36 a week rather than 45) and I was still able to get all my administrative shit for the week done (better imo - stock control was certainly stronger) and performed better on shift but the obvious downside is that in hospitality sometimes you just need bodies behind the bar and if both the other managers had dropped 9 hours a week like I did then we'd have had to pay someone else 27 hours worth to pick up that slack time.
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