4-Day Weeks

I actually have 7 day work weeks, but it doesn’t matter how many times I sit down at my desk to work in any given day or week – it doesn’t cost me any gas money to get here. Nor does it require firing up the office cubicle of course.

It’s obvious that with gas prices hovering near four bucks a gallon (at least around here) that more people are beginning to look at telecommuting in a whole new light. But not everyone can telecommute, nor do they want to. Prime example: My Kids. They don’t want to be home schooled (nor do I have the patience to battle lesson plans with my own son who readily admits writing is his “arch enemy.”) Sometimes you just gotta go to work or to school.

I take my kids to school and pick them up every day. It’s one of the perks of working at home, right?! We live on a long, dead-end, gravel road and they don’t ride the bus for two other reasons as well. (1) By the time I’d drive them to the end of the road to meet the bus we’re already half way to school and (2) the bus schedule would require them to leave here at 6:30 in the morning and by driving them we don’t even have to get up until nearly 7.

My kids are out of school now, so we’ll be saving on that tiny gas expense for the summer. But towards the end of the year, my kids and I had a discussion on the way to school one morning about how they’d like it if school were only 4 days a week. Even when I announced they’d have to attend longer days, they were still quite excited about their idea. Right now they attend school from 8am to 2:20pm. If they went to school 4 days a week they’d have to make up one of those 6 hour and 20 minute days. Divide that by 4 and you’re actually talking about an additional 95 minutes a day. So school would start at 8am and end at 3:55pm. Geesh, go the extra five minutes (until 4pm) and you’d even increase the instructional time obtained enough to end school a few days earlier, too.

After a bit more thought (and some ensuing discussions with the kiddos), I now think it’s not only the best idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s one that every single school system and work force in the known universe should implement 4-day work weeks, to the extent that 20 years from now we’ll be telling our grandchildren about how much better life is now than what it used to be. You know, the whole “we walked to school, uphill both ways, in six feet of snow, with no shoes” idea.

“Boy, back in my day we had to pay for wi-fi access and we had to go to school FIVE days a week.”

So here’s why my kids and I think it’s a great idea to have school 4 days a week:

  • 3 day weekends, of course
  • save gas – buses & cars run one less day a week
  • increase productivity – less time spent on the morning rituals and end of day routines and more time spent in learning activities
  • save operating costs – perhaps it’s not that much cheaper to run 4 longer days than 5 shorter days, but it’s got to make some difference (especially if the entire school year gets shorter as well)

We’re not the only ones who’ve been thinking about 4 day work weeks and other alternative choices for school and work:

  • Energy surge prompts move to 4-day work week in US – “We were going out for transportation quotes and the difference between the four-day and five-day school week was 55,000 dollars,” Superintendent Greg Schmidt said.
  • Many try telecommuting to drive less – High priced gas changes Americans’ habits.
  • Get Ready Here Comes the Big One! – “Employees all across the country are currently submitting petitions to employers in attempt to gain approval of four-day weeks and telecommuting. They are citing more the just gas savings, here are just a few points that are being laid out very convincingly.” (added 6/17/08)
  • A four-day work week can pay off at the pump – “We applaud the Santa Rosa County Commission and any other local governments looking at a four-day work week to save gas for themselves and their employees.”