Is a four
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.
There are different kinds of flexibility.
First is the work from home. Many of my colleagues work from home at least
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?