Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Case for a 4 Day Work Week

The economic crisis has led many corporates and others, mostly the suited and booted with serious smirks as if they have the astute powers to handle such situations (well, they haven't!) variety to re-look at their strategies to stay afloat. The bigger ones have more cash in their bank accounts and make a lot of noise about it to belie employees' notions that their employer is soon going to seek refuge under the small print of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Some of the bigger ones were not (probably still not) in a state of financial liquidity to boast such things, as the money which they made in earlier days at a rate which was faster than the gestation period (fastest) record shared by three marsupials viz. the American and rare water opossums and the east native cat of Australia, approximately 12-13 days (which technically speaking is not fast, but its the parallel which is being drawn which is to be noted) whizzled out of their fingers as they counted the moolah at a rate faster than you could say WIP, which incidentally in certain officialese means 'work in progress' and if your basic numeracy is on a holiday half away around the other side of world let me take this moment to bring it back by stating, the aforementioned scalar quantity is faster than the previously established gestation period of three varieties of marsupials.

Anyway the fact is a lot of people have had to readjust their strategies to 'align themselves with the marginal drop (works out to more than 30% which could also tend towards 100% in preliminary back of the envelope calculations) in demand' or 'explore cost cutting measures (read as, "Thanks we think you have had a fair bit of fun at our expense, now its our time to laugh, so sod off!") keeping the best interests of all parties at stake' (quite naturally the HR teams have the highest stakes), 'rationalise annual performance benefits' (commensurate to the common name of that member of the legume family, Arachis hypogaea) and other such efforts by the top brass to satiate the ever edacious essence of shareholders with wolfish tending to piggish appetites for profits and such.

Creativity has also had a fair bit of airplay. One such piece of what I would call tremendous surge of activity in the right side of the cerebral cortex was witnessed or rather is being witnessed till the end of the calendar year at my current employers. Why might this excite me despite loss of one day's pay per month? I get a day off for each day's pay per month foregone. There were complains at the start, a readjustment in monthly expenditure, a cut in dining out, lets go to the theatre but lets not have the bucket of popcorn and cokes, that shirt looks good-looks even better on the mannequin and so on and so forth. I on the other hand was relieved. Here's one more day in a week to do a lot more things I always wanted to do but couldn't plainly because I had only the weekends to do whatever I had in mind.

The term used to describe this phenomenon of a day off to all employees was furlough. According to the dictionary a furlough is:
a. A leave of absence or vacation, especially one granted to a member of the armed forces.
b. A usually temporary layoff from work.
c. A leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner

I rather liked option c for being brutally frank. I first came across the term in a Beetle Bailey strip where Sarge had out of desperation and a malicious fondness cuts short Beetle's furlough. Beetle returns long faced and wrathful. Now that I was facing it, I would probably react in similar fashion. The furlough days were well distributed to time around a Friday or a Monday with a festival in the near vicinity. This ensured extended weekends and more so on the other hand, shorter work weeks. Weekend getaways took a whole new dimension with an extra day to laze about or explore them. So did socialising, especially if the nights turned out to be all nighters fueled by sufficient amounts of that third favourite beverage on Earth, whose patron saint is Gambrinus. These extra non-working/nonpayable 24 hours per month also brought in benefits such as time to -
a. philosophise
b. sleep
c. philosophise and then go to sleep
d. sleep, wake up and then philosphise
and permutations and combinations of whatever you like best to do in such situations. Anyway the point of all this meandering is to drive home the point- that work is good, it occupies you, it helps you earn a living, it brings the bacon to the table, the clothes you wear and the roof under which you sleep; but despite this it isn't as important as to let go and relax, chill, loll, bum around, wake up at 12AM and go back to sleep. (of course if you sleep at 6AM its perfectly fine to go back to sleep at 12PM) So all you lazy lads and lasses reading this post, that's my case (rather weak I must say, on re-reading it) for the four day work week.


randomlines said...

Bacon = good
Things that put bacon on the table = good
Sleep = good
philosophy = good

Why are we faced with this choices! And with the consequences of these decisions. Somebody needs to give me bacon to sleep.

Vivek Nenmini said...

Whats good is too tough to get, and what's easy to get aint so good for you, atleast in the long run.

Choice is good, we feel bad only after we make a choice, and that doesnt seem right. Which brings us to the middle path, and then our convictions go wrong. Sad...

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