Working Smartly

Forbes magazine published an article criticizing the 4 day work week. They bashed a theory that you can substitute 4 ten hours days with the normal 5 eight hours days successfully. Forbes cited a lack of moral and productivity with this method. A focus on face time is no good for business. You need to emphasize results to benefit the business. This arrangement is also tough for employees with children.

Forbes also mentioned that there is a lot of wasted time already in the workplace. Some examples are surfing the web, attending useless meetings, and going on frequent coffee breaks. Forbes recommends that you should work smartly. I agree with Forbes on this matter. It is not the amount of hours you put in that determine the benefit you provide your company. I was surprised that many people chastised Forbes magazine for taking this approach. I thought I would review some of the arguments against Forbes here in my blog.

A big opponent to Forbes in this area is the company 37signals. They shared their own company’s philosophy on the 4 day work week. They require their developers to work 4 eight hours days. They employees get Fridays off without having to work extra on the other days of the week. They figure that actual people don’t work 8 hours a day anyway. The main point they brought up is that when there is less time to get things done, you will force yourself to be more efficient.

The 37signals response itself had a lot of comments from readers. Some pointed out that classical company payrolls are based on a 40 hours work week. Others states that in some industries you need to be there for customer and/or employee support. This scheme may only apply to desk jobs such as programming. One woman claimed that, after having a baby, she switched to a 3 day 8 hour work week. She said her productivity skyrocketed.

This argument cuts down to the core of how you add value to a business. Are you getting paid to show up for 40 hours per week? That’s what my contract says. Or are you getting paid to make your company more money regardless of how many hours or days you work? Unfortunately my company makes money from me working and charging a client money. They like people to come in to the office for face time. However some individuals have negotiated a partial telecommuting option. I personally don’t do it. I like to separate my work and home locations and life. This is not to say that this is not a good idea though.