Essay: In praise of the 32 hour work week

I work 32 hours a week and have for several years now. I love it and I think it is time for more businesses to rethink what a “standard” week looks like.

I have had a lot of jobs over the years and the one thing that all of my full-time jobs had in common is that there was not enough work to keep me busy full time. I am efficient in my work and do not like to mess around, which may contribute to my quick completion of all the duties of my position. And when I did what I should and asked for more work I never was assigned any additional, nor were my ideas for me to increase my workload approved. In previous positions this led me to many frustrating hours of aimless Internet surfing and eventually, a new position at a new company where the problem would repeat itself. In my current job, my plan to work less was approved.

I have taken a 20% pay cut which was worth it to trade in eight hours of aimless Internet surfing for time that is my own. I still qualify for full-time benefits, and my employer gets a happier employee doing the exact same amount of work for less money.

I physically have to be at my job every day as I just can not get out of recess duty one day per week and so I work five days, but leave early on four of them. This has been a fabulous schedule for me as it gets me up and going five days per week, but with built in free time four days per week. It feels great to leave at 1:30 on three of those days.

So why do we have to work 40 hours per week? I’m lucky that this job pays the full cost of my benefits; at many companies employees must work 40 hours to receive any benefits at all. But maybe we should have a rethinking of what “full time” really means. How much of the American work force is stretching their workload to fit an eight hour day just to qualify for the health insurance? How much money are companies wasting on employees who are not actually working at work? Because our view of “full time work” comes from a “40 hours per week” lens perhaps companies are missing out on making positions more flexible. If more companies employed more people who did their jobs in less than 40 hours perhaps more people could be employed.

My reduced work schedule has benefited both myself and my employer. Let’s open our minds to a “full time” work week of less than 40 hours. Try it on and see how it feels.

One thought on “Essay: In praise of the 32 hour work week”

  1. Nicely done! I must admit, selfishly, I loved the letters I would get from you during those long 40-hour week years in Boston. I will be intrigued to see how your 45-50 hours weeks will be when you are teaching. Until recently, I found them mostly enjoyable and worth my efforts. I have hit a small burn-out point and am looking to make changes. We shall see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *