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Summary:

Sometimes I wonder whether anyone actually works a 40-hour week any longer. In the past we’ve looked (somewhat skeptically) at the 4-hour work week, considered predictions of the coming 20-hour work week, and heard from real world web workers who revel in 60- and 70-hour work weeks. Now, there’s another length to consider: the 4 1/2 Day Workweek, recommended by the team behind Wufoo.

What’s interesting about this 4 1/2 day scheme, though, is not the choice of 36 hours as the appropriate length of the work week for a programming and product development team. The real novelty lies in how they structure their week: not all days are created equal.

Sometimes I wonder whether anyone actually works a 40-hour week any longer. In the past we’ve looked (somewhat skeptically) at the 4-hour work week, considered predictions of the coming 20-hour work week, and heard from real world web workers who revel in 60- and 70-hour work weeks. Now, there’s another length to consider: the 4 1/2 Day Workweek, recommended by the team behind Wufoo.

What’s interesting about this 4 1/2 day scheme, though, is not the choice of 36 hours as the appropriate length of the work week for a programming and product development team. The real novelty lies in how they structure their week: not all days are created equal.

At Particletree, they spend Monday through Thursday working on their products – and nothing but their products. Controversial and unscheduled topics get pushed off. The goal is to accomplish 5 (inefficient) days’ worth of work in 4 highly-focused days.

Then, when Friday comes around, they work a half day starting in the afternoon – and at someone’s home, rather than the office. What’s on tap for those Fridays? It’s a mixed list:

  • Bonding
  • Discussions of company business
  • Thanks to customers
  • Meeting people

In other words, their Fridays are set aside for things that are a change of pace from the regular work week – and that work better as large chunks of time than as interruptions that sidetrack writing code. This strikes me as a very smart move; recognizing the potential for this sort of organization is rare.

Is there something here that you can apply to your own web working career? It’s possible that you already have! Mondays, for me, are all about email and other written word catchup, and I deliberately avoid scheduling software deadlines on Mondays; I know from experience that I won’t get much (if any) coding done just as I’ve come back from a weekend.

Does your work week lend itself to this sort of scheduling, regardless of how long it is? Are there things that are better handled in big chunks, rather than as interruptions? It’s worth taking a few minutes to step back and ask yourself whether you’d benefit from a work week where every day was not just a carbon copy of every other.

By Mike Gunderloy

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  1. For me doing something all day is harder than distinguishing between days. In other words, I like variety through the day and through the week. The only exception are meetings – if I have to attend them I like to box them in one day, as delays and interruptions destroy all my other plans during that day anyway. As much as their idea is good, it will soon become common bread and they won’t benefit from it anymore. My advice: make spontaneity a rule, not new rules.

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  2. [...]Eine Idee zum Wochenablaufplan, die nicht nur für Programmierer erwägenswert ist. (Sie beinhaltet mehr als 4 Arbeitsstunden.)[...]

    Dieser Eintrag wurde als „Artikel des Tages für Multiprojecter” nominiert. Hier kannst du bis 05.09.2008. 8:00 die anderen Kandidaten besichtigen und für deinen Lieblingsartikel stimmen. Wir würden uns freuen, deine Meinung zu hören.

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  3. I find this idea great.

    @Marcin
    Even if you like doing different things within a day, it’s good to reserve some time for “always arising but not really important” stuff.
    Otherwise they keep on interrupting your real work.

    It’s also interesting that they meet in someone’s home – just like a small teambuilding.

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  4. I think the key is to keep your days dynamic and full of variety. Inefficiency kicks in when you’re pushing something monotonously way too long like Marcin said. It’s better to combine different activities which boost the work moral. And who says you need to work only during the weekdays? Work on Sun and get Monday off :-)

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