"I started working a four-day week this year and the change in my life has been enormous.
2017 was a terrible year for me. My mum has late stage dementia, I was working a full time job, I was frustrated and angry. I was comfort eating and drinking too much alcohol to try to compensate for how terrible I felt about my life.
At the end of 2017, I took a huge leap, quit my job, and started looking for part time roles so that I had more time to support my dad with my mum's care. I went into contract work and was able to find an employer who would let me do 4 days a week.
The transformation in me has been huge. I'm so much healthier and happier. I've used my afternoons to do exercise (I now run about 20km a week). Mum was taken into care in February so I visit her in a care home three or four times a week (it is wonderful that I can spend quality time with her before she dies). I've been eating better food because I have more time to cook at home. In 2018 I've lost 20kg (44lbs) and have gone from an obese BMI to a healthy one. My mental health has vastly improved too.
I can't imagine ever working a five-day week again. My concerns are that when my mum passes away employers won't think I have a valid "excuse" to work four days a week. I'm still relatively young aged 35, I don't have or want children and I think potential employers might think I'm lazy or suspect for wanting to work four days. Also, as a contractor I can afford to work 4 days a week, but it becomes less affordable when you look at the kinds of permanent roles that currently consider 0.8 of a full time contract. These tend to be lower paid roles.
I truly believe a four-day week has huge potential to transform our society and help people to lead healthier and happier lives".
"I work at a non profit that embraces a four-day work week and it has changed our lives. We are healthier, happier and more productive!"
C.C, Denver, Colarado, USA
"I work part time (four days a week) because I can't bear to work full time. It destroys my mental health. But this means I am always on the poverty line. The whole system needs to change".
"I went down to a 4 day week and since then, have completed three diplomas and actually have time to eat healthily and exercise plus more".
I like work and used to always stay late at work to get more done without giving it a second thought. Most of my sense of self-worth probably came from work until I became a mum.
Becoming a mum made me question my attitude to work as it saddened me to think our baby would need to be ‘institutionalised’ in a nursery setting before he could even walk - for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week - just because of the mainstream working hours in the adult’s world. After maternity leave I tried working full time and felt knackered in the evening. I did not have the energy to care for myself, never mind playing with our baby; when I put him to sleep I inevitably felt asleep before he did.
I am a freelancer and thankfully my client has agreed for me to work 4 days over 5 so I finish in time to do nursery pickup. I do have to be super focussed at work, skip lunch on most days and there are evenings when I have to catch up with work stuff at home. It takes effort to stay on top of my job but it is definitely possible with these things: discipline, organisation, honesty and trust.
My industry tends to pay freelancers on day rate so I work less but earn less despite producing the same quality of work. Given the current norms I am not in a position to negotiate for higher pay as it is my ‘personal choice’ to work less (but is it really a choice?)
At the end of the day the compromises are worth it, my world is bigger and brighter when work is not so dominant. I remind myself that it’s OK to have less money as long as we are wise about our spending and have a ‘want less’ mindset.
P.S Typically a lot of babies and children are at childcare for 10 hours a day, from 8am to 6pm. Assuming, on average, they are awake 13-14 hours per day, over a week they spend 2-9 hours less with their parents than with their childcare providers. Sounds wrong? A lot of my new parent-friends even have to negotiate with their employers to leave on time at 5pm so they can pick up their child, never mind shorter or flexible hours. Is this really normal?