Stalking the Ideal Work Week

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.


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