How Long Do We Have to Wait for a Four-Day Work Week?


It’s a little unnerving and interesting to think that if the circumstances didn’t play out the way they did, we might not have a concept of the weekend.

Unlike other measurements of time: 365 days to make one revolution around the sun, the months to go along with the phases of the moon, the concept of seven days is  man-made. And by sweeping accounts of history, the idea of having to rest was born also out of the need to work.
How did we end up with a two-day weekend and a five-day work week anyway? And is there a chance that work-driven calendar change given the shifting times and the nature of modern technology? Let’s look at a few factors that dictate how humanity framed life through this lens and how it tells of the things we truly value.

#1 Monday used to be the rest day

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The expression “I hate Mondays” wasn’t the case for our 19th century Britons. The Atlantic reports how workers “would drink, gamble, and enjoy themselves so much that the phenomenon of ‘Saint Monday,’ in which workers would skip work to recover from Sunday’s gallivanting, emerged.” Would that be handy if you ever needed to “call in sick” after a Sunday night of dancing?

Such behavior forced the factories to adjust and gave people a half-day off on Saturday so that they’d come in by Monday.

#2 T.G.I.F. for real

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The Jews were the first to recognize that there is a need to take it easy. For them, the Sabbath was originally from Friday eve to Saturday the following day (quite similar to a drink all night and get back from a hangover schedule). This picked up among Christians who also saw Sunday as part of the sabbath.

Companies eventually adjusted to the religious beliefs of their employees. The Sunday Morning Herald says that it was also seen as an advantage to allow workers to spend some time in Church.

#3 The TV predates the weekend

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In America, the fight for an eight-hour work week started in the late 1800s and ended around 1940. Yep, it was fairly just recently that most of us followed the idea that we have to only work eight-hours a day. Business Insider has a timeline of how it all started from the protests of the labor unions to  how it was formally passed into law. The TV on the other hand was first invented in 1927, making it older than the weekend. I wonder how workers of the past would react to how television has evolved into Netflix and concept of binge-watching.

#4 Technology might force us to re-think the weekend

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Forbes declares that the 40-hour work week, 9 to 5 schedule is actually dead. This generation, despite having more access to entertainment and various activities for recreation,is one of the hardest working ones. They now clock in 60 hours a week. But it may soon collapse given how the increase in working days causes burnout and less efficiency in the workforce. The same article points out that we may need to adapt a four-day work week.

#5 Will we soon follow the French?

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An indication that we are shifting the way we approach work and rest is how France recently passed a law that allows employees to ignore work emails after designated hours. Fortune reports that the law requires establishments to make sending and receiving work communication illegal after a certain hour. “The email restrictions could provide a benefit to both workers and businesses, by making employees more relaxed and effective,” says the report and so far has been met with positive results. It also looks into reducing healthcare costs, which is a win for both employer and employee. When will other countries follow suit? Well, that may just be another development we have to wait for the way our ancestors first got a taste of the sweet weekend.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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