Volvo. IKEA. The Chef from the Muppets. What do all of these have in common? They are some of the greatest things to come out of Sweden. And now we can add the 30 hour work week to that great list – but is it enough, and would a flex work week work better (pun intended)?
Several Swedish companies have implemented a 30 hour work week where employees will work six hour days over five days. Take your pick of articles covering said 30 hour work week, they’re everywhere. And take your pick of the varying opinions as well, mine included. I for one, think the Swedes are going in the right direction, especially for shift and line-work. Hopefully many other countries start to follow and build upon this concept. But more can be done.
Let’s take the office-dwelling, water cooler-talking, white-collar sheeple that put in their eight plus hours between 9 and 5 (or 8-4). I’ve spent my time in the corporate world, down in the trenches with my fellow cubicle comrades, killing time on Facebook, or somehow getting so lost in the vortex of YouTube that I find myself watching a video of kittens sneezing. And that leads to my first point…
I rarely worked 40 hours a week!
Oh sure, I’d have days in which I would be busy, possibly working all eight hours in the day, maybe even more. But the next day, or a few days later, I’d surely have some down-time. And if I didn’t, I’d make sure I did by working harder for the first four hours of the day so I could “mail it in” for the remainder of the day – and this isn’t an uncommon practice. Take away internet play time and useless meetings and you could easily work 30 hours a week!
So What is a Flex Work Week?
In a few past jobs I had to be on-call or need to work after hours, and I would sometimes work through lunch too. I typically came in between 8 and 9, and left work accordingly. I could leave for an appointment, but was expected to make up my time (don’t tell anyone, but I usually didn’t). It was a flex work week in a way, but not quite.
A flex work week should allow you to come and go as you please, so to speak. Okay, but you’re not going to be strolling in at 9pm, raid the lunch room refrigerator for forgotten lunches, and then call it a day. But you can come in at 7am, get some work done, hit the gym at 9am, come back around 10:30, get some more work in, grab lunch (possibly work through lunch – what a concept), do some more work, leave at 2pm so you can beat traffic, pick up the kids from school, and then work from home the remainder of the day. And maybe you’ll work from home other days too, coming and going to your home office as you need to.
That’s just an example, of course. Now that my wife and I have a home-based business we have a similar schedule, minus the kids. We probably put in about 6 hours a day, but some days we put in much less, and some days we put in much more.
Flex Work Week = Work Life Balance
More and more employers are catering to employees desiring a work life balance. And those who aren’t should do so, or the talent will move elsewhere. And recent graduates are looking for this kind of flex work week too. Some may think this is a selfish “me first” attitude. I couldn’t disagree more. It’s not selfish, it’s smart. We’re not productive eight continuous hours of the day. Having lived in Latin America for well over a year now, I’ve come to appreciate naps so much more!
One of the reasons we sold all our stuff and quit our jobs was to find out what we wanted to be when we grow up. Well, we’re grown up now and we’re doing things we want to do while working a flex work week. We did this because a flex work week was never fully embraced in our workplaces. Sometimes I only want to work 4-6 hours a day. I may want to take a 3 day weekend without having to grovel. I may even only need to put in 20 hours some weeks.
For us, we could no longer be forced to sit in an office for over eight hours a day, working with people that made you wonder who in the company they must know or be related to that got them hired. I guess some people deserve that 40 hour work week.
Quitting your job and moving to a foreign country may not be something you can do, but surely finding a job which allows a flex work week is within your grasp. Your time on this planet is more valuable than any paycheck.
Now go sell all your stuff