FOUR DAY WEEK By Anna Coote, Aidan Harper, Alfie Sterling, Polity Press
Some ideas are so good a book does not have to be written to extol the concept. FOUR DAY WEEK is one of them. That being said, it is worth the read for the simple reason there are still many people who need to be convinced the 9 to 5, five day week was ordained in the stars. Actually, the eight-hour day was conceived by Henry Ford in 1926 because three, eight-hour days, equaled three shifts of workers around the clock. Saturday, the Sabbath, had been recognized as a non-work day for Jews since 1908 when New England cotton mills shut down from sundown Friday to sundown Sunday. Ford, incidentally, invented the weekend because he gave Saturday and Sunday off.
As presented in FOUR DAY WEEK, the idea of a long weekend has been pushed by prescient economists for years. People spend more money on weekends than during the week. Even more important, by extending the hours of the four business days, working people have more access to government workers. In the 1980s, a three-day work week was suggested in Alaska for that very reason. And one more. In the 1980s, Alaska had four time zones which made it difficult for people in Nome, for instance, to deal with bureaucrats in Juneau; 8 am in Nome was 11 Juneau. The idea was for all state workers to have 12 hours days, three days a week, thus giving Alaskans four days to spend their money rather than just two.
FOUR DAY WEEK is an admirable read for the history it presents. And it offers a snapshot of what other nations are doing – or not. The best thing about the book is that it can be used by Alaskans to resurrect the concept of a three-day week because many Alaskans do not have a traditional 9 to 5 work schedule and reaching state government is difficult and inconvenient.