When it came about in the early 20th century, the five-day workweek was a triumph. Labor unions bargained collectively to get workers another day off, doubling their free time to enjoy the country’s booming prosperity. Now, though, it is an anachronistic holdover of a bygone era. (Many professionals are at their employer’s beck and call 24/7 anyway.)
From the NYT, a while back:
The idea that all employees should sit in the same place for eight hours a day, five days a week, seemed maddeningly inefficient to me. I knew that I was at peak productivity at certain times throughout the day, with regular lulls in between. The flexibility to determine when and where I worked made me a better worker….
In today’s world, where we are constantly connected, the office should be reconceived as a gathering place to communicate ideas and to reinforce personal bonds. Beyond that, employees should be given the respect, and the responsibility, to manage their own schedules and complete their work on their own time, from wherever they choose. This is the principle we followed in my business, called Khush. We came to the office three days a week for five hours a day, starting around noon.
Of course this would not work for some jobs, where the work is dependent on a physical location, public convenience, or tools in a fixed location. Construction workers, gas station attendants, and barbers, for example, will never work from home–nor would I want them to.
This raises a larger point: people don’t want jobs, they want what jobs provide. Money and a way to pass the time. A social network, perhaps. A sense of accomplishment. But not work for its own sake.