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Should Work Schedules Change with the Seasons?

One CEO says his company produces better work on a four-day, 32-hour schedule during the warmer months.

Biking to work is pretty grounding. You’re more connected to the world around you.

In the summer, I show up to work sweating like I just lost a dance-off. In the winter, I show up sweating like I just lost a dance-off and the booby prize was a chance to stick my head and arms in a freezer for five minutes. But once inside the office, it’s as if the changing seasons don’t exist.

Unless you work for Jason Fried, that is. Fried, CEO of 37Signals, recently wrote for the New York Times that his company’s work schedules change with the seasons.

For example, from May through October, we switch to a four-day workweek. And not 40 hours crammed into four days, but 32 hours comfortably fit into four days. We don’t work the same amount of time, we work less.


We work less, he says. I can imagine it's pretty easy to get buy-in for that idea around the office.

So is this just an example of another business coddling entitled Gen Y employees (that's a thing, according to the Wall Street Journal)? Maybe not. Check out what Fried wrote about the results:

When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.


Makes sense—particularly if it’s a temporary change.

Beyond that, 37Signals has tried giving everybody a month off of normal, nonessential duties, and asked them instead to work on whatever they wanted to.

I’ve heard plenty about people who regularly work four 10-hour days, but changing the working schedule to fit with seasonal changes is a newer idea in the U.S. business world and it makes a lot of sense in certain industries. Have you heard of other companies doing something similar?

Photo via Flickr user ginnerobot.

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