Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Thoughts on Compressed Schedules: 151 hours in 3 weeks; followed by 9 days off

When briefly discussing the topic of compressing multiple weeks worth of work into fewer weeks, followed by more lengthy time off with VersionOne CTO Ian Culling today, he asked me: "Have you read that book?"

I asked, "What? There's a book about it?"

He said, "Yes, the Seven Day Weekend. I've read it and will bring it for you to borrow."

The book is written by Ricardo Semler, CEO of a Brazilian company, Semco, which has been very successful through the application of many non-traditional practices. 

Learn more here:

A typical year's worth of work is considered 2,080 hours. If you have 3 paid weeks of vacation, then the number of hours you actually work will be 1960.

Now, what's 1960 / 52? It's 37.69231.

So, if you spread your vacation into each week, your 40-hour week would be 37 hours and 42 minutes, about.

Ok, great. How much is 37h 42m times 4 then? Answer: 150.76923

For argument's sake, we'll call this 151 hours.

Now, what if we worked these hours in 3 weeks instead of 4? Would that be so hard?

51, 50, 50 = 151.

Here's a possible schedule:

Week 1:

Mon: 12 hours: 7:30 - 5:30 = 9 hr work, 1hr lunch, and 9 pm - 12 pm = 3 hr work
Tue: 10 hours: 8:30 - 7:30 = 10 hr work, 1 hr lunch
Wed: 12 hours: same as Monday (12 hr work)
Thu: 9 hours : 8:30 - 6:30 = 9 hr work, 1 hr lunch
Fri: 8 hours : 8:30 - 5:30 = 8 hr work, 1 hr lunch

For week 1, this ends up at 51 hours.

For weeks 2 and 3, you do the same thing, except replace Tuesday with 8:30 - 6:30, for only 9 hours.

Or, maybe you'd prefer to do two heavy days back-to-back and get them over with. Fine, go for it. Swap Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe you have the flexibility, and desire, to do 4 hours on Sunday evening, or Saturday morning. Great, then chop off 4 from Mon or Tue, or turn them into simple 10 hour days. It's up to you and your employer.

Anyway, if we think of the two twelves in the original example, this makes for just two days that are longer than the ordinary day, Monday, and Wednesday.

Now, by spreading out our 3 weeks of vacation to reduce our work week to 37.69 hours a week, we can work the fourth week's hours ahead of time in just "ten extra" hours a week, from the point of view of the traditional "40 hour" work week.

Just think about this: what would having a 9 day vacation every single month enable you to do for your life, for your family, your community, and yes, even for your career and employer?

Working "around the clock" with a cell-phone, internet and VPN access may be the norm now, but if we're going to be doing that, then why not make 50 hours a week be the new norm, except follow it by one week off every month?

As the "next step down", but perhaps more palatable all around, consider the 5 week schedule compressed into 4 weeks.

Here, we have 37.69 hours times 5 = 188.46 hours.
So, divided by 4 = 47.12 hours per week, or 9.42 hours a day.

9.42 hours a day? That's almost nothing, right? It's 9 hours, 25 minutes, and 12 seconds actually :)

Big deal. Work from 8 am to 6:15, with, a 40 minute lunch break. That still gives you about 4 to 5 hours after work, assuming you get home around 7 and want to go to bed at 11.

With this schedule, you end up with pretty much regular hours, regular evenings, and regular, full weekends. Want to leave early on Fridays? Have at it. Work 2 to 4 hours from home in the evening, and leave on Friday at 2:15.

Yet, again, most importantly, is that after working this schedule for four weeks, you've already worked the same number of hours you would have worked in 5 weeks had you worked 8 hours a day.

Because you did it this way, you should now take 9 straight days off for a mini vacation. 

With 52 weeks in a year, the pattern is something like 40 working weeks, and 10 9-day mini vacations.

That's 200 days working, 90 days off.  But, add 10 more days and 4 more weekend days:
210 / 94 + 61 more weekend days from the other weekends.

We end up with 210 working days and 155 days off. Not bad.

Will the company shut down if people are out a week after working 4 straight weeks? I doubt it. Rotate the schedule so that not everyone is out the same week. Or don't. Shut the whole thing down. Be creative. Go for it.

Maybe my math is off a bit, but you get the picture.

Perhaps there are other, even better options. Maybe 10 weeks on, 2 weeks off (16 days straight!) is the ticket? For example: if you worked the same schedule as above, 9.42 hours a day, you'd have to work 10 weeks in a row, but then could take two full weeks off + 6 weekend days. Since, there are 4 groups of 12 in 52 weeks, you could it 4 times a year!

It all boils down to the fact that there are multiple ways to work toward this goal of both satisfying your obligations to your career, and of carving out more continuous blocks of time off for rest and recreation.