This is a guest post by Dr. Rae Taylor
Maybe I should start by saying that I am all for the four-day workweek/three-day weekend. If that makes it sound like I’m trying to get out of work, I’d like to point out that I have been called a workaholic by three different bosses. In fact, one of those bosses refused my request to go part time because “part time would mean I start working 40 hours a week. And that’s still not right.”
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t this the person who just reminded us about the shortage of engineers? And now she wants to let them work less?” Yes, I did just do that, and thank you for reading and remembering, but maybe this new topic could be one step in helping solve that problem. If engineers are retiring early, leaving to change careers, or not entering the workforce at all, then maybe we need to rethink fundamental things like the standard workload.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and it’s a real concern that I think keeps getting overlooked. And frankly, this highlights the relatively shortsighted nature of business. Engineering, no matter the subdiscipline, requires a lengthy training process. I remember sitting through talks at university on how to gain chartership and being a little crushed to think that after all these years of school and exams, I would finally get to go out into the world of work, but would still have to do school and exams for yet another three to … infinity years. If we can’t get engineers trained faster (which we can’t), then we have to try our best to keep the ones we have. We need ways to keep people motivated and productive, and ways to reduce the burnout rate.
So from the woman who brought you “Networking Is Hard, but Chatting Is Easy”, we now get “The five-day week is a construct, so why not a four-day week?”