Let’s lose Fridays!

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Being a person of just above average intelligence, I am not given to random moments of brilliance, so when one does strike me, I get terribly excited. Here’s my bright idea: let’s do away with Fridays. No, really. Why don’t we run our working week from Monday to Thursday? Here’s why:

For people whose work entails generating ideas, strategies, plans, plots, projects and proposals, there is a real need to create both a physical and mental space for ideas to be conceived, coalesced, calibrated, changed, checked for viability and finally, cascaded to others.

It’s a well-known fact that in order to generate good ideas you have to be exposed to new ideas.

Now if you are spending your entire working week executing tasks and defending decisions, then there is very little time and energy left for the generation of ideas.

What better way to ensure that new ideas are coined, nurtured and fostered than to set aside an entire day, solely for the purpose of ideas immersion.

Just in case you are starting to doubt my intellectual capacity, let me assure you, there a few highly respected thinkers whom I reckon would agree with me.

Let’s start right at the top of the food chain with Albert Einstein, who asserted “imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Now because we are so accustomed to our very academically biaised education system, we may fall off our chairs laughing at this idea.

And yet how true it is. Everything that exists has in fact been imagined first by someone. In fact Napoleon Hill, author of the perennial bestseller, Think and Grow Rich says: “Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.” So, if thinking and imagining are so important, why not allocate the necessary resources to it?

Such resources would include stimulating experiences and yes, Fridays!

We all know the story of Galileo and what happened to him when he dared suggest that the world may in fact be round rather than flat.

Turns out he wasn’t a rabid lunatic after all. It’s the power of imagination, the courage to share a new idea. Surely more important than the limits of already existing knowledge!

According to a BBC World Service podcast, governments all over the Europe have been looking for ways to cut public spending. One of the more original ones put forward by Financial Times management columnist Lucy Kellaway has been to make Thursday the last day of the working week.

By cutting off Fridays, she figures you could cut 20% off the weekly wage, yet miraculously productivity would hardly be affected at all.

Kellaway quotes a survey which shows how much trouble people take over their appearance in the mornings.

On Mondays the average woman spends 72 minutes on grooming to get ready for work, but by Friday its down to 19 minutes, indicating, I suppose, a waning interest in all things work-related, or a decline in the desire to make a good impression.

If the attitude towards grooming is mirrored in our attitude towards work, then clearly dropping Fridays from the working week is a foregone conclusion!

To support this idea, are the results of a US employment agency’s research in which they asked workers which day they got the most done on. Most said Tuesday was the most productive day and only 3% said Friday.

Kellaway says she adopted the new 4-day model herself years ago, working very hard from Monday to Thursday and taking Fridays off. She claims this pattern feels “better, happier and more natural”! (But how could it not?) On Thursdays she experiences what productivity theorists call an “end-spurt”, trying to get things finished before the “lovely long weekend”.

In 1930 WK Kellogg decided to cut the working week of his cornflakes makers from 40 hours a week to 30 hours.

He declared: “The efficiency and morale of our employees is so increased, the accident and endurance rates are so improved that we can afford to pay as much for six hours as we did for eight.” (BBC World Service)

What this demonstrates is that organisations can realise plenty of value from cutting down time actually spent at work.

World renowned author, thinker, and time management guru Steven Covey explains that most people are driven by the concept of urgency.

But to really effect positive change in our lives, we need to reorganise the way we spend our time; based on the concept of importance, not urgency.

Now you tell me: if generating ideas and thinking are very important to an organisation, shouldn’t we devote an entire day to the process?

Like any new idea, drug, concept or proposition, we can never be absolutely sure if it will work in our specific situation and conditions.

What with all the peculiarities of living and doing business in Zimbabwe, we clearly will need some very brave people to try this out first, before we implement it as a national commercial policy.

It’s a tough call, but someone’s got to do it. As a concerned citizen operating in a true spirit of volunteerism, I would like to offer my services as one of the first test cases for losing Fridays. Anyone else want to join me?

Thembe Sachikonye writes in her personal capacity. Readers’ responses can be sent to localdrummer@newsday.co.zw

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