Eight days a week

Posted on Sat 09 January 2016 in economics

What would you give up for a three-day weekend?

The problem

How great are three-day weekends? For me, at least, they recall the days in undergrad in which Thursday at 2pm was the end of the work week. The rejuvenation of those three-day weekends is certainly a step above the normal weekend of the 21st century corporate drone.

If only we could do something about our real-life weekends...

The proposal

With that in mind, I propose a three-day weekend for all workers. Now hang with me here.

No employer would be happy to just give all of their employees Friday off each week - an extra 52 vacation days! They might be open to weekly "flex days", with working hours Monday-Thursday extended from 7 to 8.75 hours per day. This arrangement might be too much for some workers but is not altogether unreasonable.

There are two balancing incentives: - employees' desire for longer contiguous time off - employers' desire for a minimum amount of hours worked by employees

(Though on the latter point, it is not clear that this is the best proxy for productive output.)


I propose an eighth day of the week, which we can tentatively name "Micahday." (Alternate names are welcome.) Micahday would be inserted between Saturday and Sunday. The key: \(\frac{4}{7}<\frac{5}{8}<\frac{5}{7}\).

We maintain our 5-day work week, and add a full, luxurious 3-day weekend. Fly, fool -- travel every weekend if you want to!

Hours worked

Assume a typical US employee works 35 hours/week for 50 weeks/year for a total of 1,750 hours. (This roughly corresponds to the actual average work week of 34.5 hours and actual average work year of 1,789 hours.) We want to make our proposal attractive to employers by not substantially changing the total number of hours worked. A calendar with eight-day weeks would have about 43.5 work weeks per year (excluding two weeks of vacation). So the average workday under this proposal would increase from 7 hours to a few minutes over 8 hours. More reasonable.

System Hours/week Weeks/year Total hours
Normal 35 50 1,750
Proposal 40 43.5 1,750

Previous attempts

Apparently the Romans at one point used the Nundinal Cycle until the introduction of the Julian calendar. The nundinum ("market day", yes, please attempt to use that in context tomorrow) was

the day when city people would buy their eight days' worth of groceries.

Sounds like a typical TJ's run to me.

Some more or less crazy attempts have also been made in the modern era.

Problems, duh

Obviously it is far-fetched to believe that anyone would actually overhaul the calendar to accommodate eight-day weeks. In one sense, it wouldn't make that much of a difference -- January 9 would stay January 9, a year would have the same number of months, and a month would have the same number of days.

Sure, maybe under my proposal a November beginning on a Friday or Saturday wouldn't have a Thanksgiving. Sure, maybe every piece of software to ever use a date would have to be patched.

But think about those long weekends...

Try it out

There's nothing to stop a forward-thinking employer from simply scheduling their employees 5 days on and 3 days off under the existing calendar. A company with less need for constant interface with the outside world (in terms of banks, markets, clients), such as a software company doing initial product development, could give this a shot. Make sure to pay me the fat consulting fees if you do.