The four-day week's a nice idea, but every job needs its downtime

The bottom line is that workers who have families will always feel conflicted

Share

Forgive me if this sounds a little rushed… I’ve been running around like a mad thing with a breakfast meeting, a management briefing, lunch with an important contact and – after I’ve finished this – a meeting with a fellow editor, a leaving do, then dinner with two writers who need some TLC.

And all of that is without the actual, y’know, “day job” of putting together a newspaper. However, compared with what the newly appointed European head of Facebook, Nicola Mendelsohn, will have on her schedule each day, it’s probably small beer.

Ms Mendelsohn, mother of four and esteemed advertising executive with many years’ experience, has requested a four-day week at Facebook, so that she can spend time with her family. Given the notoriously unsociable and young-dude-friendly long hours involved in most tech companies (particularly those that operate across several time zones), it seems sensible.

But is the four-day week really the solution? It depends what you do with it. I’ve just gone up from four days to five and have had to figure out how to do all that stuff that comes under the “boring-but-important” umbrella connected with having a husband, two children and a house. The stuff I used to do on a Monday, when everyone else was at school/work.

After a necessarily long, hard look at how I organise myself, I realise I was not applying the necessary rigour to organise a work day OR to achieve domestic stuff. And, in fact, if I took a lunch break each working day – something I rarely do and instead eat some sad sandwich al desko while scrolling through Twitter – and made a brisk walk to the Post Office, the sock shop (what DO teenagers do with socks?) or just ate lunch quickly, quit the tweets and spent 45 minutes on domestic correspondence, life would be just dandy. I wouldn’t need a day off in the week to do all that stuff.

Of course, that requires toughing it out when someone comes over and sees you filling in a school-trip permission slip, or doing an online flight search. But it IS legitimate. It is a work break and no one should feel guilty about it.

Unless someone installs a washing machine under the desk, or creates a 3D printer for groceries, there will still be some stuff to do at the weekend (not that Ms Mendelsohn, on what a high-flyer like her gets paid, need worry about that). But by not carting home work to do “on the day off”, time with family will be mostly quality, if 20 per cent less in quantity. The bottom line is that workers who have families – and that’s not just women, hello, it’s 2013! – will always feel conflicted. But an extra day at home in which to feel conflicted with a different vista is not necessarily the answer.

Twitter: @lisamarkwell

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect