What Would You Do With a 32-Hour Workweek?

Last night I worked from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m., with an hour-long break for a walk at 7. This isn’t a typical day at the freelance office, thank goodness, but I’m still working about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days, which gives me a roughly 50-hour workweek. (I often cut out early on Friday and make it up on Sunday night. Like many of us, I suspect.)

So let’s say I worked 32 hours and still earned the same money as I did for my 50-hour week. That’s what the above video, originally posted at The Atlantic, is all about: online educational company Treehouse offers team members 32-hour workweeks while keeping them at full salary and benefits.

This is the second time Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson has run a company operating on a shortened workweek. As Business Insider reports:

Carson, who serves as CEO, founded Treehouse in 2013 with the four-day workweek philosophy he gave employees at his previous company, Carsonified, in 2006. His wife and business partner, Gillian, suggested nixing Fridays, since the reason they started their own business was to enjoy a better quality of life.

In the video, Carson specifically states that he was inspired to cut workweeks back to 32 hours after he had children. “I’m not going to be at my f*cking keyboard at 9 p.m. on Friday night.” Another Treehouse team member, in the video, speaks to his new ability to help his wife share more of the childrearing duties.

Treehouse’s CFO, Michael Watson, cites how a shorter workweek can generate new ideas: “When people aren’t overworked, the chance for that lightbulb or epiphany moment, or whatever you want to call it, to go off, is increased.”

Knowing me, this is exactly what I’d do with a 32-hour workweek: I’d get a new idea for a creative project and implement it on the off hours.

Near the end of the video, Carson says: “It’s really down to people to choose. Are you going to talk about how it would be nice to actually work less, or are you going to do something about it?” Of course, this isn’t a choice that “people” can make. It’s a choice that CEOs can make. If Ryan Carson wants to spend more time with his family, he can restructure his entire company. If you and I want to spend more time with our families or friends (or creative projects), well, I have to hustle for jobs that I can complete in less time for more money, and some of you might have to look for a new full-time employer.

Lastly: I have some friends who work at Treehouse, and who talk about how much they love working there. These friends are women, but the Atlantic video only shares men’s responses to Treehouse’s 32-hour workweek. It would have been nice to hear a perspective from a woman and/or a mother as well.

What would you do with a 32-hour workweek? Would you spend more time with family? Volunteer? Go hiking, take up an instrument, host a weekly tabletop game night, start writing your novel, or finally take the time to watch Orange Is the New Black (which you’ve still never seen)? Do you think it would change your life dramatically, or do you think it would be pretty much the same life, with a little less work in it?

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