Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

A midweek break is a beautiful thing. A four day workweek separated neatly by a respite filled break in between. What a wonderful concept and idea. Alas! It’s a rarity. A four day workweek made famous in recent times is euphoria for most, but a possibility for some. Working any number of hours and days is nothing but a convention. It is after all what is required to get the job done which helps to realise the predetermined goals. Doing so in less time is of course the definition of efficiency. Ensure the goals stick and are continuously met then you got effectiveness built in. Such systems are designed in a manner to optimise for the time available at hand. 

But when one discusses time spent working, it invariably leads to a deeper classification of deep and shallow work. Brainstorming meetings to my minds are deep work but regular routine stands-ups, the ones which are more tactical in nature are shallow work. The real fun is finding the right Deep to Shallow work ration. A good ratio in my opinion would be 40-60, but that could vary from industry to industry. Execution requires co-ordination and constant updates, so a sense of dynamism needs to be brought in to ensure shallow work is still effective. Emails are necessary and are pushed at the right time. 

There is no golden ratio. In times of development it maybe 80:20, and slowly moves to 50:50 as one gets into production and then finally 30:70 as one gets into maintenance mode. This is applicable for most things in life. But deep work is supreme. I wonder if stable projects and companies went into the 80:20 deep to shallow ratio, then would a four day work week be feasible? I think so. This is of course in the absence of any empirical evidence and largely anecdotal experience of working on projects and ideas in the organised world of corporate HR. 

Further, the key idea of working alone versus in teams is also a key factor to be considered while choosing the ratio. When you work alone, you have the luxury of time boxing and blocking out distractions. But in an office set-up or when collaborating remotely on multiple projects – one is likely to be making sacrifices in their deep work time. This leads to the age old problem of meetings. These thieves of deep work are seen unnecessary but they help in setting the direction. Imagine working deeply on a product feature which the group has not signed off on. 

If one were to keep the constraint fixed on the number of days, then automatically the system will be forced to change. That is the point I am curious to explore. Would all systems fire and shut down precisely at the same time if one decides to cut down the number of working days? Who knows. There’s only one way to find out.