Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
4 day work week
My plans and a new study. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Programming note! If you've been here a while, you might remember "low power mode" from last summer, which is how I keep this newsletter publishing every day, without never, ever being able to take a day off.
Well, I'm going to put the newsletter back into "low power mode" during the Christmas holidays, starting Friday December 23, and running through a day or two after Jan. 1. You'll get a newsletter, but we're going to dig into the archives a bit, and we'll skip the "7 other things" for a few days.
That means next week will sort of be a 4-day work week for me (and for a lot of people, I suspect). Which makes it oh-so-convenient that I have something to share on the entire concept of 4-day work weeks, courtesy of a new survey of 33 companies with 903 employees that adopted that kind of schedule as part of a pilot program.
In short, the survey suggests that having tried it for a while, both the companies and their workers think it's a big success.
This wasn't an effort to squeeze 40 hours into four days; instead, the workers apparently went from 40 hours to just under 35, with no loss in pay. So, while you might expect employees to love working 80 percent of the time for 100 percent of their previous pay, their employers also signed onto the idea long-term, with virtually none of them planning to return to a more traditional five-day a week schedule.
Among the findings:
Companies rated their experience a 9 out of 10, with regard to productivity and performance.
Workers reported "lower levels of burnout," along with less fatigue or insomnia, and improvements in "physical and mental health."
Average revenue among participating companies rose 38% during the 4-day work week period, when compared to the same period last year.
We should acknowledge that the pilot program here is run by a group called "the 4 Day Week Global Foundation," an international collaboration with researchers at Boston College, University College Dublin (UCD, Ireland) and Cambridge University (UK).
Dedicated as the group is to the study of 4-day work weeks, it might not be surprising to find that the results of their study turn out to be a resounding endorsement of their idea. They're also working on a larger, six-month trial involving 70 companies and 3,300 workers in the United Kingdom; results from that study are due in February.
Still, I think it's intriguing that studies like these suggest that the entire notion of what we've been said to employees as a society for decades, was off.
In short, we tell them—and we're told ourselves, as children—that this is just the way things work for adults. You trade your time for money.
But what if we're discovering something better now? People used to say that your work grows to the size of your desk, but what if the opposite is true? What if you can learn to trust each other, and really work toward the same goals, to the point that you can come to another, better arrangement.
Hmmmm. The lie for me in all of this is that no matter how much or time I say I'm going to take off from work, I very often still find myself squeezing in minutes, hours, and entire days. So my "4-day work week" usually has an asterisk at the end.
That's part of how I came up with my whole "low power mode" idea last summer. I just had too many memories of spending late-night hours working on my laptop on the couch in rented beach houses.
Fortunately, however, I'm not too old to learn new tricks.
What do you think? 4-day work week, yay or nay? Let us know in the comments.
7 other things worth knowing today
Crazy that this requires legislation, but: New legislation would for the first time require commercial warehouses, retailers and ports to allow truck drivers to use their restroom facilities when picking up or dropping off freight. The Trucker Bathroom Access Act, introduced Thursday by U.S. Reps. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.), adds language to federal law to ensure such access while drivers are working. (Freightwaves)
The House gave final passage to legislation to replace a bust of Roger Taney in the Capitol—Taney was the Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery in 1857—with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black person to serve on the high court. (NPR)
President Joe Biden’s administration released more than 13,000 records of President John F. Kennedy's assassination Thursday, but it fell short of fully complying with the spirit of a 30-year-old law demanding transparency by now. About 98 percent of all documents related to the 1963 killing have now been released and just 3 percent of the records remain redacted in whole or in part. (NBC News)
Almost 2/3 of Americans—63%—now report that they live "paycheck to paycheck." Among people making over $100,000 it's still high: 47%. (CNBC)
Details of MacKenzie Scott's extensive philanthropic endeavors are now compiled on a new, searchable website Scott launched Wednesday. Yield Giving includes specifics on her $14 billion in donations to more than 1,600 organizations going back to 2019. The "gifts" section of the site allows users to search Scott's donations by location, focus area, and key words. (Business Insider, YieldGiving)
A Sanskrit grammatical problem which has perplexed scholars since the 5th Century BC has been solved by a University of Cambridge PhD student. Rishi Rajpopat, 27, decoded a rule taught by Panini, a master of the ancient Sanskrit language who lived around 2,500 years ago. (BBC)
If you're into it you already know, and if not you won't care but two of the top scorers on the planet—Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe—face off in Sunday's 2022 FIFA World Cup final when Argentina and France square off at Lusail Stadium. I'll be watching. Anyone else? (CBS Sports)