Is a fourday workweek a better option? I’ve always thought so. For the longest time, I didn’t really see any reason to work on Fridays.

But the possibility to do this had never arisen. I’ve worked in traditional law firms where one must not only work five days a week but also often work long hours and weekends. Only recently have such firms begun to accommodate some idea of flexible working and working from home.

But having moved on from traditional law firms to my latest job, I noticed how flexibility operates better.

If there’s anywhere that a 4 day week policy could work, I knew it would be in this role.

Working four days a week

There are different kinds of flexibility.

First is the work from home. Many of my colleagues work from home at least one day a week. A few people do this two days a week. I’m not the biggest fan of working from home, I wasn’t particularly keen.

And then there are those who work less than 5 days but then aren’t 100% full time. So if they work 4 days a week, they’ll be regarded as working 90%. If they work 2.5 days, then they’re on a 50% contract. What this means is that their salary and remuneration such as leave days are adjusted and pro rata the amount of time they work. They’ve essentially taken a pay cut to do this. There’s more than a handful of people who do this. Either because they work 50% of the time at my firm and have another job; or because for example, they need one day off for something else entirely – from graduate studies to childcare.

This flexibility didn’t appeal to me because I didn’t want a free day that much to take a pay cut and I have no second job or education that needed the free time.

In an interesting twist and on a random post about work flexibility, a couple of people left comments about how their firms allowed you to work longer hours and take Fridays off.

I thought to myself “brilliant”. Either shortly before or after (I don’t remember the sequence of events), I realised that’s what one of my colleagues did. She worked 8-6 Mondays to Wednesdays and 8-5 on Thursdays. This meant that she put in the required total of 35 hours and didn’t have to come in on Fridays! Did I just hear you say brilliant?

Surely I could do this – an extra 2 hours a day for a whole day off. So I decided to request for this work arrangement.

What were my primary reasons?

First, if don’t work on Fridays I could spend time at home with my little toddler and potentially we could save on childcare.

Also, I could potentially save on my commute costs if I worked 4 days a week.

I never ever left the office at 5 pm anyway. I almost always left at 5:45 or sometimes 6 pm. So this wasn’t going to change much. I’ll leave at the same time and catch the same train home.

Finally, If I caught the earlier train in the morning, I’ll always get a seat because fewer people! Unlike standing on the trains during rush hour.

What were the potential downsides?

First, work extra two hours a day. I thought this was a no-brainer. You see, I’ve almost always worked long hours and without any defined set times. I’ve got home at 2 am before to be in the office again for 9 am. So if anyone had offered me this at that time, I’ll have jumped on it! So what was a mere two extra hours?

Second, an earlier wake-up time. To be in the office at 8 am meant I had to leave to house one hour earlier than usual. Phew. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person anyway so why not?

My request was granted without hassle! And I’ve now been doing that for about 3 months.

So, my official hours are: Monday – Wednesday 8-6pm; Thursdays 9-6 (I figured an get that extra hour of sleep on Thursdays)

If I ever sent you an official email, you’ll see this on my signature.

So 3 months in, how am I getting on?

My experience of a Four-Day Workweek

What’s going well?

Well, if anything else, I am somewhat a morning person. I wake up at 5:30 am and no later than 6 am ready to catch that red-eye ish train. I arrive at work before 8 am and occasionally one of the very first people to arrive. Definitely not the first, as a new colleague of mine has chosen to work 6 am – 2 pm daily! Yup.

Did I save a lot financially?

Sadly not. Perhaps not even a dime. I realised that my travel monthly train tickets were already calculated on the basis of going into London 3 days a week. So as long as I travelled in a minimum of three days, the costs stayed the same.

Interestingly, the same is the case for our childcare costs. The difference between a four day full time payment and a five day one is pretty much inconsequential. So we’ve decided to have the option of the five day one and use it when we choose.

Operationally on the home front how do I manage?

We’ve worked this out such that Tola gives Jidenna a bath and gets him ready for nursery on Mondays – Thursdays when I have to jet out. Then on Fridays and weekends I can do this. That helps a lot! So I literally wake up, sort myself, leave the house.

And at work? Is this extra two hours a pain? How does one navigate a 10 hour work day?

The reason why many colleagues and friends I speak to say they could never do this, is because of how early they have to come in. Some have said “how can you work such long hours?”. Like I’ve said 10 hours was a basic for me pre-maternity leave so hey, no biggie!

But is that still my present reality? How do I break down this 10 hour day?

8 am – 9 am is one of the best hours of the day. It’s quiet. I can either tackle important tasks or make a cup of tea and simply settle in nicely

9:00 am – 11 am is often busy. People coming in; and the day carries on as normal.

11 am: At this point, I’ve been in the office for three hours and it begins to take a toll. I often grab an apple or stroll to the kitchen for another cup of tea. Anything to break the time.

11 am – 1 pm: Another longish stretch. I start getting quite hungry at about 12 noon. But while most people dash off for lunch at 12:30, I choose to wait till 1 pm (because after lunch I still have four hours to go!)

1 – 2 pm: A break. Finally. I’ll often take a stroll and get some lunch. While I love to pack my own lunch, this means I’ll have to eat it in the kitchen – and I’ll rather leave the office. So I try to find a workaround such as eat for 30 minutes in the kitchen and take a walk for the remaining 30 minutes.

My experience of a Four-Day Workweek

2 – 4 pm. The first hour after lunch often goes by quickly. If I’ve got afternoon meetings, I love when it’s scheduled around the time.

4 – 5 pm: 4 pm is a bit of a slump time. I’ll often grab some tea and a fruit snack. Many of my colleagues have started to wind down at this time, with their end of day close by. But I’ve still got two hours. Gotta crack on.

5 – 6 pm: This is the longest hour most times – as many people start to head out at 5 pm sharp. I’ll often use this hour to send out emails and sort admin processes. If I need to have quick chats with my team lead, this is also a great time.

6:10 – Shut down my computer (actually many times I just “log off”), and take a brisk walk to the station to catch the train home while I silently pray that it’s not delayed.

How productive and restful are my Fridays?

I had such great plans for my Fridays! The plan was to be incredibly productive. I was going to catch up on blog work and personal tasks such that I wouldn’t have to do any of these on Mondays – Thursdays. It may have been a stretch but I also intended to restart my swimming lessons.

The truth? I have never witnessed a day go fast like my Fridays. First off, I find myself so exhausted from Monday to Thursday that I’m sleeping way into Friday morning and taking long naps. And then I just seem to drag my feet on everything else.

These are on the rare days when I’m home alone which have been very few – because so far, I’ve had exams to write, people to visit, had to get my hair done, appointments etc. These honestly were not the plan for this free days. And once there’s an additional task on the calendar, it’s so hard to do anything else.

General verdict?

In theory, it sounds perfect. And when I recently mentioned to Tola that I was vaguely considering going back to the 9-5 he asked why on earth I would do that. Truth is I probably won’t. But it’s not exactly perfect for me. It’s great for my colleague whose commute is 25 mins at the tops.

My new work schedule also means that aside from my day job, it’s increasingly hard to anything else on Monday to Thursday. So I spend Fridays playing catch up. Hopefully I’ll settle a bit more into the routine and make it work for me better.

So yeah, I may not be stopping this anytime soon. Because if not for anything, it’s cool to say that I’m on a four-day workweek.

My experience of a Four-Day Workweek

What’s your work pattern like – do you work flexibly? My colleague has an interesting one: Monday 8 am to 1 pm, Tuesday 8 am to 6 pm, Wednesday 9.15 am to 2.15 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6 pm and Friday 8 am to 1 pm.

Would you rather do this or a my 8-6 than a 9-5 daily?

Read too: Four women quit medicine to follow their passion and 10 essential items for your office desk.


11 COMMENTS

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11 Comments

  1. Ife.O

    November 5, 2019 at 15:33

    My ideal schedule is definitely flexibility; being able to work from home on some days and go in on others, but no matter what to still be able to get in before 7 cos I love having dinner relatively early. And most times after dinner, I continue working but from home. And so far, especially being in academia (in the U.S.), this works perfectly. My work schedule may be my most favorite thing about academia really lol.

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      November 5, 2019 at 16:09

      In my first draft of this post, I had a short paragraph where I said true flexibility is like that of my husband who is in academia as well. Goes in max 3 times a week. Leave early as his calendar dictates. work from home etc. He may end up working longer though, but is truly flexible. Def a joy of academia!

      Reply
  2. Odunn

    November 5, 2019 at 15:42

    The idea of working 4 days a week sounds really good. I rarely leave the office before 6 anyways (even with my 9:30-5:30). I love how some companies embrace flexible working hours; what’s important is getting the job done.

    Reply
  3. Tola

    November 5, 2019 at 16:07

    It’s interesting you posted this especially as I just read this similar article earlier – https://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-4-day-work-week-boosts-productivity-2019-11?r=US&IR=T
    I think it’s pretty cool what you’ve done and I have a friend who did similar. It’s hardcore though but if you already spend that time in the office might as well make it count for something! I’ve learnt to do the whole work from home thing so I sometimes have a day or 2 of this and work around the extra bits I need to do – this might also include working in the evenings so I can have a chilled day – or if I have a daytime appointment, etc. It’s constant trial and error though!

    Reply
  4. Winifred

    November 5, 2019 at 22:32

    I loved this post and how you broke your day down. I guess having more responsibilities in one’s personal plays a huge role but I’ll say a 4 day work week works for me. Maybe I’m not aware of many options out there so I can’t say what I’ll prefer.

    Reply
  5. Vanessa Bobai

    November 7, 2019 at 18:05

    I have had the 8-6 life and getting my Fridays off was perfect for me at that time. Getting in early in the morning helps me get a lot of things done before the office noise starts.
    I’m back to going in every day because my new role requires being present daily.

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      November 20, 2019 at 15:08

      The early morning before everyone arrives is the absolute best! Aww re new role; maybe you can switch back in future.

      Reply
  6. Bugo

    November 20, 2019 at 13:43

    Maybe I should ask for this you know?!
    I hardly leave the office before 6.30pm anyway so I could definitely do 8-6 and take Friday off.

    Thank you for sharing this x

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      November 20, 2019 at 15:07

      You should give it a try you know! The “flexible working” agenda is gaining grounds in the UK, so why not? Let me know if it works out. xx

      Reply
  7. LoriKemi

    December 14, 2019 at 23:07

    This was an interesting read. I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of work week that best fits my lifestyle or personality lately and have come to the conclusion that I’m really not an “office person” as an introvert – I find myself being more productive when I work remotely/away from people who stop by my desk to ask questions, invite me to meetings, etc. Luckily, my workplace offers a lot of flexibility and I’m able to ‘work from home’ often (mostly Fridays). With that said, I don’t know how I would feel about cramming my work Mon-Thu to have a 4-day work week… And your experience certainly makes me realize that there may not always be many benefits to doing so… Thanks for sharing it and all the best! | http://www.lorikemi.com

    Reply
  8. Afoma

    December 16, 2019 at 23:43

    Ohh how I wish I had the option to work from home but it’s literally impossible ( I work as a pharmacist)
    My current schedule is 8:45-6:45 which is 10 hours and I typically do that Tuesday to Friday each week and alternate Saturdays 9-5 (8hours). So I do 40 hours one week and 48 the other, my contract is for 44.
    So far I love having the Monday off because even when I work the Saturday, I still get a longish weekend

    Reply

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