Tag Archives: job

The 4 Day Work Week?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’m going to put my geek job guru hat on for this column and discuss the idea of the four-day workweek. I’m sure we’ve all heard about Iceland’s experiments in such an arrangement. I want to go into how it’s possible to do so with little interruption – but there’s something else to address first.

Namely, a lot of current working arrangements are awful. People are underpaid, abused, work in bad conditions, etc. We must fix these things, and we must have a robust social safety net. Also, a four-day workweek would be good for mental health, period.

With that out of the way, let me explain why I think a four-day workweek is possible for many jobs. I believe that people can be just as productive, with some exceptions. I also don’t care about the exceptions because I think a four-day workweek is a good idea.

But, anyway, a four-day workweek is possible because many businesses and organizations burn a lot of time on useless stuff. Imagine if organizations worked to do things better and that saved time meant less time on the job?

FIXING MISTAKES IS A PART OF TOO MANY JOBS: And I’m not talking QA or editing, but fixing mistakes that should be rare. People burn cycles going over poorly filled-out forms, bridging gaps that shouldn’t exist, and so on. Ever know someone whose job boils down to “talk to people who don’t talk to anyone else?”

TOO MANY BUSINESS PROCESSES ARE TERRIBLE: The reason so much goes wrong is many business processes are awful. Endless forms with no guiding documents and poorly implemented reports suck up time. Many people waste time doing things that don’t work very well as no one wants to fix them.

MEETINGS: Somehow, in the last two decades, meetings got even further out of control. I suspect technology has made it even easier to schedule time-wasters – meetings with no point or where only a few people are needed. What if we, you know, had less?

USELESS TOOLS:  I remember being excited about business tools – programs, spreadsheets, etc. However, they may not solve problems and can even create more if they’re not the right ones. How many times did you give up on something and use Excel (the duct tape of tools).

NO IMPROVEMENT: Agile has taught me how to focus on improvement. However, a lot of businesses don’t seem to want to improve by, you know, improving. THere’s not much bottom-up feedback (like Agile) but plenty of consultants ready to take your money. In the end, it seems not enough changes anyway.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: I have heard this since . . . forever. It’s hard to know what’s going on in any large organization. This may not be nefarious – sometimes miscommunication happens. But when you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t plan.

BURNOUT:  All of the above leads to more people burning out. Burnout leads to failure, resignation, inefficiency, etc. If you had fewer of these problems, you’d have less burnout. Burnout makes bad things worse.

I firmly believe if organizations committed to a four-day workweek, many could make it happen by making things run better.

For fun, spend a week or two and ask yourself what tasks could be more efficient – or removed altogether. The answer . . . well, it won’t surprise you.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: We need To Rethink Our Weeks And Days

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Based on my experiences in Work From Home (WFH) during the Pandemic, I’m going through my findings about work from home. Let me get more radical – WFH in many ways proves we need to rethink the idea of the workweek and work days.

In fact, we don’t need to do it just for WFH, but I digress. Maybe I’ll digress more digressively at another time.

Anyway, the Pandemic has massively disrupted work schedules. We’re trying to deal with fear, the kids being home, schedule changes, etc. We’re somehow surviving during all of this and stuff keeps running. This leads to other questions.

Is the 40 hour workweek (and inevitable overtime) a good idea? Is there any basis in reality? Do we need that? Do we accomplish as much? Is it healthy for society? For that matter, do the days we have in the weekday really work well for us?

Is the eight hour day ideal? Ever had days where you did four hours of work and found yourself exhausted – or have a day where you could go for twelve and be just cruising? The problem with an eight hour day is for many, the value of each hour isn’t the same, and it’s not the same day to day.

We’re working in an industrial/factory work situation with no connection to reality or what we need. At best this is habit, at worst this is a situation that makes us vulnerable to having time extorted. Having to upend our usual work days and work weeks, is a good time to question just what our ideal work schedules should be.

It sounds idelaistic, but we should ask just how long people should stay on the job, how to optimize jobs, and what is good for society. Let’s ask what needs to be done, how to get it done, and how to make sure people have time.

Honestly, I think we need to consider work as:

  • First of all, we’ve just learned how we have to rethink life and work. We need to focus a hell of a lot more on life.
  • People when possible should have at least two days off, maybe more. We need that. Organizations could focus on days people should be available, or groups can find the best times.
  • We should reconsider the eight hour work day and, when possible, allow people to find the ideal day and time for them. Of course some places require certain times – so let’s work on that. Maybe there’s not workdays, but only “days we must be here” or “selection of days we must be here.”
  • And, again, to those that must be on shift, in public, in phyiscal space, they deserve proper reimbursement and support.

Yeah, I know to do this will require people to be active. We’d need to push for it. But it’ll be worth it.

Besides, we’ve just learned our ways of thinking don’t work. They never really did.

Steven Savage

Career Thoughts Late 2017

I haven’t done a career post in awhile. I’ve been focused on my worldbuidling books and expanding my repetoire, but I’m still the Geek Job Guru, and it’s time I do a bit more of that.

So with 2017 stumbling along, from political chicanery to security issues to media scandals, let’s talk the career landscape so far. It’s . . . weird.

Economy:

  • The stock market is humming along, but in the midst of political chaos, assorted scandals, and growing social and economic issues. In short, I don’t trust it, and expect a soft landing at best, or a steep (but not radical) decline in the next year or two.
  • Political uncertainty with our current administration can balloon out of control very quickly, especially in cases of military action or impeachment. It’s pretty hard to prepare for this, but you’ll want to. For instance, I have a few “economic emergency plans” in place just in case.
  • With all of the above, I think some economic downturn is simply unavoidable. The question is how severe it will be and how long it will last.

Speaking of Economic Emergency Plans:

  • As much as I like making Plan A work, it’s good to think ahead on your plan for an economic downturn both local, national, and global. This is because we might get one. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it’s good to have a basic one so you don’t have to worry about it.

Where To Work

  • As much as I love the Bay Area, our housing issues are starting to impact recruiting. I consider this place a good area to move, but urge caution and careful research. I think we’ve got another 2 or so years of this so if you move here – keep this in mind.
  • Amazon’s big plan to make a new HQ is probably going to create a rush, but based on what they said, I wouldn’t expect it to be in a truly major area (Boston, Chicago, etc.). It’d be more a secondary or tertiary city. I also don’t consider it a guarantee of stimulating the economy.
  • My usual recruiting pings seem to be coming from all over lately, I haven’t noticed any trends except “all over.”
  • One big warning is that if you do move, treat it as permanent. You never know and I don’t trust current stability – make sure you’re in a place that can take economic downturns.
  • The bloom is very much off the Tech Company rose after the endless waves of scandals. This doesn’t mean these aren’t good places to work or good options, and people are still investing in some strange ideas. I take it more that we’re seeing things come back to oft-painful reality.
  • Side note on tech companies – considering the scandals we’ve seen from harassment to promoting propaganda, consider that there’s probably more to come by the odds. Adjust expectations appropriately.

Staying Mobile

  • I’ve seen a increase in recruiters looking for people willing to move around for temporary assignments. I’m mixed on this idea since it can lead you all over the place, affect your lifestyle and social life, and perhaps even health. But it might be good as filler.

 

Career Options

  • After the issues with Equifax, you can believe security is going to be an issue in jobs. I’d suggest playing that up if you have the experience and keeping an eye out for opportunities. This is a place to build a permanent career – that hasn’t changed, it’s just more urgent.
  • I’ve recently been introduced to a less-seen world of change control and training and business analysis. This is a fascinating area you may want to check out – because it’s omnipresent and it’s evolving. I’ve also noticed Analyst work is big for both starting careers and bringing them to a conclusion.
  • I’m seeing more and more people doing side projects quite openly, like my books or Seventh Sanctum. If you have one and can make it public, go for it.
  • As for what jobs people should do or train for – that’s something I’m honestly not sure of now. All I can say is do your research.

Job Searches

  • There seems to be a lot of talent mismatch out there with people, companies, etc. This is actually a warning as desperate people may hire wrong.  I think it may be getting worse.
  • On top of the above, I’m seeing more specific recruitment attempts – at times incredibly specific in ridiculous ways. These jobs then stay open forever. Applying for them if you don’t fit enough is probably a waste of time.
  • Recruiters are getting a lot more aggressive the last few months based on what I’ve seen. That may be good, but can be annoying, can lead to a bad mismatch. Also a few companies are outsourcing recruiting and these recruiters are kinda clueless.
  • Pay rates seem very stagnant as of late, possibly regressing, at least based on personal experience. You may need to be aggressive – and I suspect this is part of further problems (above). People want to deal with mismatches cheap and fast.

 

The entire economy and job market seems to somehow be moving forward erratically while also being in a holding pattern. So if you have any input, I’d appreciate it.

– Steve