4 working days: experience sharing
Lately, I have noticed a lot of posts about working four days a week. In my opinion, all these posts have an issue:
They only focus on the positive aspects of it. They tell you:
"Now I have time for my passion",
"Now I can reset and think better",
"Now I can spend time with my family".
Sadly, my personal experience with working four days is different.
I want to share my journey and thoughts and bring a different light on this topic so you see the pros and cons of the four day week.
4-day workweek: how it started for me
Here, we are, in 2004, in Paris.
I got an internship in a small business. First good news. The second good news (I guess): my future employer tells me that we work four days a week. "Great!" I first think. "Longer weekends in Germany with my boyfriend and more time to visit Paris I just moved to".
After my internship, I created the opportunity to stay in the company for a limited time contract. My salary was meagre. Of course: 4 days a week. On top, the company had some serious financial difficulties at this moment (what I was informed about).
But I loved the team. I liked the mission. I needed a first job to start my professional life. And I had more free time than I could wish. It sounded fantastic, right? During this time, the four working days were quite positive.
Some months later, I got the possibility of staying in the company for an unlimited time, and I accepted (excellent team, great mission, more experience). At this very moment that I felt the other side of the coin of the 4 day week because it was not something transitory anymore.
The cons of working 4 days a week
I noticed that:
> As I had more time, I spent more time outside... and bought more. But my salary remained the same. Very small.
> With one day less at work, I was directly missing 20% of the opportunity for learning and working with professionals. A big issue when you are in the early years of your career.
> I was working intensively at work, like all my colleagues. Not sure it would have been different with one day more, though; we were all very passionate.
> The four working days topic was a sort of tabu at work. It was considered as progress. Before I joined, my colleagues did a lot of push to work 4 days a week. I respect this. ...But it was not my choice.
As I was too emotionally connected to the company, I didn't quit (what I should have done). Instead, I tried to make the most of my free Friday.
How I tried to turn the four days workweek into an advantage
I reordered my thoughts and priorities to make the best of the 4 working days without the disadvantages:
> At 22, I created my own business, a literary agency, to increase my knowledge in the sector, develop my networking and generate an additional income.
> I continued travelling and visiting Paris. I spent all my money left by my flat and food on train tickets. No regret at all.
> I consciously marked a cross on shopping, which was very easy.
However, the outcomes were in halftone:
> Yes, I met very insightful professionals with my agency and grew professionally with them. I wouldn't have met these sorts of people at my job.
> Yes, I challenged myself by creating my own business (I was suddenly a tiny entrepreneur), even though it was very humble.
> Yes, I generated a bit of money.
> Yes, I now know Paris and Europe very well.
> ... But the income of my agency work was slow to reach my bank account (it was essentially due to the business structure with long sales cycles).
> ...But I spent much more than one day in my business. I worked for it during the weekends, during my holidays. So I rarely rested.
After two years and a half, I left the four working days and a meagre salary.
Recommendations for a mindful 4-day workweek
I don't necessarily think that working four days a week is terrible. I even think it can be a significant decision depending on the context and your mindset.
However, next time you get an offer for a job with a four days week, and now that I took distance (it happened 15 years ago!), I recommend you to:
> Make sure that the four days week is your choice too, not only the one of the company.
> The four days week is not for everyone. It would be best if you were very mature to use it properly to reach your personal goals.
> Be clear about what it means from a salary point of view and a learning one.
> In general, now what are the things that are actual benefits for you. In my case, I would have given much more importance to time flexibility, for example.
I hope that sharing my experience with the 4-days week is helpful for you to make further thoughts about it. Don't hesitate in sharing your views and knowledge about it. I would be happy to read your comments!