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The Four-Day Work-Week: Fiction or Reality

A recent Yahoo article suggested that several employees in the USA were avoiding physical work on Fridays. Sounds like a novel idea? Maybe not so much when you’re from the Caribbean, and arguably, when you’re trying to access a government service in the afternoon, or when any Friday is preceded by a holiday, or marks the start of a long weekend. Nevertheless, it does beg the question, is a four-day work-week slowly becoming more reality than fiction?

For ease of reference, many, if not most employees work a standard 40-hour week that comprises eight hours per day, Monday to Friday. That seems fair enough. Yet, when one considers the external factors that can make achieving this weekly goal a daily nightmare, such as: (i) the exceptional traffic jams and transportation woes experienced commuting both to and from the workplace; (ii) the broad scope of work that is placed on employees and is often masqueraded as ‘other related duties’; not to mention (iii) the ‘unwritten rule’ which suggests that to be deemed as productive, it pays to come in much earlier than expected, and also leave much later than permitted (or agreed to, in the case of a contract worker), it appears that our collective personal lives have been generally dominated and even overshadowed by a greater need to maintain livelihood.

Don’t get me wrong, earning income is quite necessary for effective survival in this modern jungle. Yet, in the same breath, and in my respectful view, an application of this philosophy shouldn’t equate with an equal, casual surrender of control over our personal lives. Those who shared my view grumbled, complained and complied, all the while yearning for better. What could we have done that was achievable? In 2020, we got our answer. Along came the COVID-19 pandemic and with it, came a permanent transformation of our lives as employees, employers, managers, owners and/or operators.

We suddenly realised, for example, that we didn’t all have to be present in the same physical office space at the same time. As a matter of fact, we accepted the notion that some of us could stagger our respective work schedules. Likewise, some of us didn’t even have to be present in order to be productive!

We learned to apply new ideas and innovation to the industrial status quo, without entirely rocking the boat. Granted, we had to adjust the existing rules of discipline, accountability and production to facilitate our tasks, while still ensuring that we and everyone we interacted with remained safe, healthy and sound, and that took some getting used to.

Yet, we soon acknowledged that, we no longer cared for the stress of being in an office on the decidedly least productive day of the week. We could no longer entertain the thought of in-person meetings on Fridays, when a simple email or application of the existing technology to facilitate such an event could be an effective substitute.

In other words, we made the once-implausible a growing reality. Now, it's here to stay.

Keywords: LinkedIn Local Caribbean, work-week, productivity, Fridays, COVID-19

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