Sir Richard Branson Says Three-Day Weeks Are the Future of Work

Jet-setting for the other four, then?

September 12, 2018 9:00 am

Why do we work nine hours Monday through Friday, but not work Saturday and Sunday?

It’s the kind of question that would elicit a gruff “That’s the way it is” from a blue-collar lifer, the kind of question you’d be more likely to consider in a series of “Why is the sky blue?” wonderings when you were four. There’s too much work to do to get hung up on such matters; why risk being branded lazy, ungrateful, impertinent … millennial?  

Lucky for the rest of us, though, leaders like billionaire man-about-globe Richard Branson do have the time, and power, to inject a little philosophy into the workplace.

CNBC recently mined and highlighted some of his ideas on work from his blog for Virgin: “The future of work,” Branson set his eyes on a three-day workweek, saying: “I believe the way we all work is going to change in the coming years … The idea of working five days a week with two day weekends and a few weeks of annual holiday is just something people accept. For some reason, it is considered set in stone by most companies. There is no reason this can’t change. In fact, it would benefit everyone if it did.”

Branson imagines a symbiosis where companies can charm more efficiency from their workers. These so-called “flexible working” situations would allow people to spend more time with their families, get fit, and travel the world, while getting paid more and learning to work in concert with ever-advancing workplace technology.  

If that all sounds very optimistic to you, you’re not alone. But consider the seismic office shifts that have come to bear in the 20th century: the erosion of dress codes, the celebration of shared working spaces, the rise of telecommuting. Virgin already gives its employees unlimited leave and a work from home option; there may not be a reasonable solution for twenty-something investment banking associates, but the winds of change could conceivably sweep several industries.

The key might be a lack of standardization. Perhaps Employee A could benefit from a three-day week. He/she bangs out tasks for those three days, and revisits work during any of the other four days when inspiration (or a conference call) strikes. Meanwhile Employee B, who knows that that sort of setup might lead to endless personal procrastination, opts to stick with the five-day week. It all comes down to options. People do tend to work better when they feel a semblance of control.

Our take? Shifting Hump Day to noon on a Tuesday would be a welcome development, indeed. 

Learn more about Branson’s musings on the workweek here, and follow his blog here.

Image from Virgin Blog

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