Is a 4 Day Work & School Week Better?
A school district in Virginia is toying with the idea of 4 day school weeks to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. They are envisioning lower utility bills, less school buses and commuting students/teachers on the road among other benefits. Detractors say that 4 days would be too little time to get needed school work done. Some say 5 is barely enough. Alternatives have also been suggested, such as more efficient, eco friendly heating and cooling at the schools along with alternate power for buses.
Although this is being framed as an ecological issue, maybe 4 days would actually make for a higher quality learning experience. Perhaps streamlining into a shorter period would get rid of unnecessary busy work, with the added bonus of 3 day weekends all year. Software company 37 Signals implemented a 4 day work week at the beginning of 2008, and the results have been nothing but positive.
From the 37 Signals blog:
So far our four-day work week experiment is working. We haven’t found ourselves collectively wishing we had an extra work day a week. We haven’t found ourselves gasping for extra hours. Instead I feel like we’ve been more focused and working better together. …
Could we have gotten more good work done if we worked those extra five Fridays? I seriously doubt it. Would we have been happier working five extra days over the last 30? I seriously doubt it. Is a four-day work week better for morale and productivity than a typical five-day work week? I seriously believe it.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that urgency is overrated. In fact, I’ve come to believe urgency is poisonous. Urgency may get things done a few days sooner, but what does it cost in morale? Few things burn morale like urgency. Urgency is acidic.