Saturday, July 5, 2008

Holidays: Yes! Weekends: No!

At Harvard Business, Tammy Erickson asks, Do We Need Weekends?

Let’s talk some more about redesigning our organizations – “hacking” the enterprise. Here’s another fundamental assumption upon which our organizations are built that I think has got to go: weekends.

I totally agree! Weekends are an outdated concept and fly in the face of a burst workplace. The idea of a prescribed "down-time" is absurd. There is no reason in this day and age that people shouldn't be free to pick their own downtime. The idea of any work function being defined by something as absurd as the clock makes no sense whatsoever. (Unless you're working in some sort of task that requires synchronicity-- like milking cows.)

That said, I think national holidays are wonderful. I love the idea of everyone enjoying some collective downtime for reflection and celebration.

Photo courtesy of Timothy K. Hamilton


Eloise said...

Not so convinced.

At almost all levels of all jobs there's a need to interact with others. Whether that's the next person on the production line or a contact in another company or another department, or a different country.

Whilst it is true that we should be able to treat people as responsible enough to manage their time and take their downtime as needed there is a benefit to being able to expect someone to be at the end of a phone or email and in a work frame of mind - I had a boss who used to ring at 3am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning if he couldn't sleep and be quite surprised when I didn't want to discuss work at that time.

Most good people will choose to work in their weekends when needed, but for people in relationships having the expectation that there is some common time to spend with your partner is also important. I know a couple where he works in the tourism industry and so works shifts and weekends. She works in an admin role and usually has weekends off. They scrabble to make sure the weekends they both have off are spent together, because otherwise they don't see each other for any quality time in a month or more.

These might not show up as direct influences on the bottom line of the company of course, but I rather suspect they will quite quickly do so - possibly as the workforce, being treated like responsible adults, realise they rather like weekends and leave to go and work somewhere they still have them!

Kevin Gamble said...

Did you read the HB post? It talks a lot about people interacting. We can interact without face-to-face these days. I'm all for face-to-face, we just need to think about the when and where of it more strategically. I'd rather think of face-to-face times as national holidays-- some clear and special reason for the gathering.

I only talk on the phone by appointment these days so I can't relate to being interruptable at all hours.

Relationship time only happens on weekends? That's kind of sad. Personally, I think a burst workplace is far more relationship/family friendly. Having done both-- I'd take burst any day. I'd rather spread my quality time with my DS over the week rather than cram it into two days of someone else's choosing.

Eloise said...

I did read the original, I just don't agree with it.

I might be in a minority, but I have experience of working both ways and don't think it's as clear cut as is being suggested.

Burst working for relationships? It really only works if you can both be that flexible, if you can't and you want some moderately serious chunks of time together you're pretty stuffed.

I think you're also looking at a fairly narrow range of jobs that can have people working without f2f:
I teach in SL, but also IRL - hard to do the latter without f2f and RL still has a role;
People working on tills;
Working in tourist attractions;
Working in primary health care;

There's a long list of places and jobs where working shifts, making sure everything is covered, and so forth are still required.

Even when no f2f is necessary there's still benefit to synchronous communication - why do we use SL to chat and IM so much when we interact that way without being f2f? Having a work routine can certainly help with setting up serendipitous synchronous contacts without f2f.

Anonymous said...

I will confess to not having read the original. However, I wholeheartedly agree with Eloise.

To me, the issue boils down to this: Why go through the extra cost of negotiating all of these separate contracts (i.e., negotiating with you when I can call) when we can just have a standard. I view this as a value of standards issue.

Besides, with no weekends, how would you do your weekly Sunday ride?

Kevin Gamble said...

Ahh, but Bud, I take all sort of midweek rides. :) (But not as many as I should.) There is nothing like mountain biking when the trails are empty. You see far more wildlife, and you can hammer without having to worry about people panicking on every pass. I'd love nothing more than to join the Wednesday morning group road rides as well.

Don't you negotiate high bandwidth meetings now? Schedule face-to-face time? Voice is no different. We only have so much time for face-to-face.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is that I do do a good bit of scheduling. But, we tend to constrain ourselves to work times, barring that to breakfasts and dinners. Having some conventions makes it easier.

Also, to be honest beyond belief, I've been known to schedule "fun" activities as unbreakable appointments during conventional work hours.

DairyScienceMark said...

But Kevin, today's automatic milking systems (robotic milkers) let the cows milk themselves when they want/need to. No more enforced schedules on the dairy farm!