A little while ago I had the opportunity to be in New York while they were going through the pains of planning for the worst in the midst of Hurricane Irene. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m often found working some late nights, and I hate when people take too long to respond to my emails, but seeing these almost-evacuees being more concerned about getting to work on Monday than their own lives? Damn, those New Yorkers got me beat.

You see, at The Phuse we have a not-so-traditional working schedule. Instead of employees coming into our company and wrapping their lives around the jobs we give them, our team members have jobs that work around their schedules and give them the flexibility traditional places of work are scared to give their workers.

As Easy As 1, 2, 3

A week has 168 hours in it (7 x 24 = 168).

Now, bear with me as I run some numbers…

According to A List Apart’s 2010 Survey, nearly 70% of workers in our industry tend to work anywhere from 40 to 60 of the hours in their week. Let’s average this and say most people work about 50 hours a week.

Now, I’d say the majority of us also take 2 hours a day to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner (if we even get 3 meals in on the average day). That makes 14 hours a week set aside for eating.

Let’s also suppose that we get the 8 to 10 hours of sleep that we’re suggested to get. If we take the middle road again and say we sleep 9 hours a night, that’s another 63 hours set aside for an activity other than work.

That’s brings us to 127 hours spent eating and sleeping. We’re left with 41 hours in our week to work. Seems like a lot, right? Well, this time is highly divided into getting other things done like spending time with friends and family, running errands, and brushing up on what we do to make sure we’re masters at our craft.

That’s a lot to get done in 41 hours, and I haven’t even taken into account other things that may distract us from our work, like StumbleUpon and video games.

In the average work force, you’re looking at 40-50 hour work weeks with all the overtime you eventually put into your job (whether it be commuting, planning, attending staff meetings, or stressing over seemingly impossible deadlines).

And yet, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development we only really work around 32 of those hours.

Whatchu talkin’ about, boy?

You see, no matter how many hours employers tack on to employees to get things done, employees will always find their own flexibility in their work weeks to slack off.

People are going to take their time to do things whether we like it or not – as business leaders we just have to determine if we want that wasted time to be paid for by us. Not to mention that the workers slacking off have a negative effect on the rest of the people who are trying to work. Laziness is contagious.

Instead, at The Phuse, we top out our week at 30 hours. This gives at least 10 more hours in the week for spending time with friends and family, learning, studying and improving, and, most importantly, taking well-deserved midday naps.

In turn, we end up with employees that are well-rested, waste less time while they work, and are continually improving their skills in their free time.

The Future of Working

Now, nothing we’re doing is very new. In the 1920s, it was Henry Ford’s novel idea to shorten the work week to five days totalling fourty hours (down from six days, sixty hours) — and nearly double his workers pay at the same time. This brought workers from all over the country clamoring for jobs at his factories. If they worked for Ford, they would get weekends off and have more money to spend consuming the very products they were building. Ford understood that his workers were also his consumers, and that by giving them more they would turn around and put it right back into the economy.

Other companies, like Google and our favourite accounting system, Harvest, give employees time to work on things that aren’t… well, work. Not only does this make room for people to experiment with new things they’ve learned without fear of going over-budget on a project or running into unexpected problems, but it gives employees time to re-energize and remind themselves why they love the work they do.

30 is the new 40

Henry Ford’s 40 hour work week was such a great idea that it has become the standard today. But we think we can do better. Our employees love their flexible schedules and so does our accountant.

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