Wrote about the great promise of the four day work week — and the difficulty of wrapping our heads around the fact that less work leads to better work:

I first started reporting on the 4-Day Week pre-pandemic, wrote a whole feature and filed it, and then...the pandemic hit, and writing anything about work felt very besides the point. Fascinating that the (enduring) pandemic --> huge bloom of writing about work/the office
I was initially compelled by what a very staid, old fashioned New Zealand trust company was doing with the four day week — the CEO basically did it purely for productivity reasons (he saw that it was stuck; read an Economist article, convinced the company to do a pilot)
After 2 months of the Four Day Week:
-Productivity went up 20%
- “Work-life” balance scores rose from 54% to 78%.

After making the change permanent:
- Overall revenue went up 6%
- Profitability went up 12.5%.

About a month into the pandemic, when it became clear WFH was going to last months/years, @buffer surveyed workers re: what would make it easier:

12% wanted more paid time off
24% preferred reduced work hours
40% wanted to try a four-day week

So they launched a pilot program
Productivity wasn't the point, but it still soared.

Actual coding days went down (3.4 to 2.7 for product; 3.2 to 2.9 for mobile/infrastructure), but “productive impact,” aka how much they were actually getting done, increased significantly—and for infrastructure/mobile, doubled
These are all encouraging numbers for people in traditional office/knowledge work jobs, but this past week, the results of a sprawling study of reduced hours in Iceland *in all sorts of jobs, including employees working irregular shift work* were released: en.alda.is/wp-content/upl…
This report is long-ish but very readable; the most striking part is that Iceland realized that they were a rich and economically equitable country like their Nordic neighbors & it made zero sense that their status quo was working far more hours and still have lower productivity
The pilot program, which extended to one percent of Iceland's total population, started with child services — because those jobs had the highest amount of stress/burnout — and expanded to care workers, the police force, maintenance/construction.
The results of the program were so straightforward — no decrease in level of service, increase in quality of life, decrease in stress — that unions have successfully used them to win reduced hours for **86%** of Iceland's working population. EIGHTY SIX PERCENT
From a participant in the pilot program: “This [reduction in hours] shows increased respect for the individual. That we are not just machines that just work … all day. Then sleep & get back to work. [But that] we are persons with desires and private lives, families and hobbies.”
There is nothing "natural" about the 40 hour week. The amount that humans are expected to work has expanded and contracted at various points over history; just because 40 hours was the norm doesn't mean it has to continue to be the norm
If your boss is afraid of the four day work week, what they’re really afraid of is change. Change in the rhythms of work, but also change in the long-held ethos that more work is always better:

They might even say that they like the idea, but it would never work for them and their scenario. Oftentimes, that reticence is about public perception: working fewer hours is still equated w/laziness, or w/some other vague notions of radicalism. It doesn't have to be this way!
As an exec at Unilever put it: “We believe the old ways of working are outdated and no longer fit our purpose.”

Fielding a lot of "this will never work with my profession" responses — I always find it fascinating that the first reaction is so often why a four day week can't work, instead of thinking through how it could

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More from @annehelen

8 Jul
I've wanted to do a similar piece to this *excellent* WSJ piece on financially & psychologically exploitative Master's programs for some time; I do wish they'd focused on even more programs

The numbers are higher at Columbia, but the scam — and yes, I think it's a scam — is the same at so many schools, public, private, Ivy, for-profit. Master's programs are *massive* money makers
If the people running these programs don't know that they're exploitative, they're telling themselves very complex stories as to why they're not. In 99% of cases, an MA in Cinema Studies, or English, or "Liberal Arts" does nothing for your job prospects. It only gives you debt.
Read 11 tweets
17 Jun
Steve (the dog) loves every human he encounters.

Except the speed walker.
Earlier this year Steve was fetching the ball in the field where people go to throw the ball for their dogs. The speedwalker was cutting across the field, and Steve ran up to her to give her his ball.

She yelled at him and started windmilling her arms.
(Caveat that I know some people are scared of dogs who are off-leash, but this is a known dog-ball-throw field, and she was cutting across it)
Read 4 tweets
16 Jun
Slack's Remote Employee Experience Index has been surveying 10k+ employees in 6 countries over the course of the pandemic; tons of really interesting insights — like the fact that 21% are currently looking for a new job:

93% of employees want freedom to set their own schedule/a non-linear workday:

Asian, Black, and Hispanic workers have higher senses of belonging when working remotely (and v. high percentages want flexible working futures) Image
Read 4 tweets
16 Jun
Watched RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the first time since childhood and whew, the orientalism in this movie, but also completely blown away by how much it operates like a Douglas Fairbanks silent pic
Just remembered that this, along with the rest of the trilogy, was one of the first VHS movies my family ever owned — obtained through a detail at McDonald's (!) where you got each copy for like $5 (?) with purchase of a combo meal
The McDonald's VHS sales trend is so fascinating, in hindsight — a way to make a visit "special" but also helped popularize/normalize VHS ownership.

In 1992, McDonald's was the third largest seller of VHS tapes in the country—beating out Blockbuster:

Read 6 tweets
15 Jun
I am so excited to be working with @curioio to provide audio versions of my newsletter. You can find an audio version of the latest, The Back to the Office Maximum, here:

They've also started recording some of the back catalog, including my interview with LaTonya Yvette:

Just Because Your Early Career Was Hell Doesn't Mean Others' Has To Be:

Read 5 tweets
27 May
Muscle Milk, The Rock, Creatine, Brad Pitt's Abs, Men's Health, Ripped Tobey Maguire, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — here's food & gender scholar @EmilyContois on the suffocating image of swole that surrounded young Gen-X and millennial men:

"Teen girlhood is a site of constant contradictions. It’s celebrated and derided, sexualized and overprotected. But teen boyhood barely exists. It’s viewed as a life chapter to rush through in order to reach manhood, the stage that matters."

I thought there were a lot of "how to get Britney's abs" articles, but they're nothing compared to "how to get Brad Pitt's abs" in men's mags. People are STILL WRITING THEM.
Read 4 tweets

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