Excitement Abounds Over the 2-Day Workweek

It’s amazing how just listening to your neighbor kvetch about his horrible bureaucratic job with endless amounts of meetings can lead to a new epiphany.  But this is exactly how the 2-Day Workweek came to fruition. (Special thanks to guest illustrator Mark Smith.)

It started when I invited Milt to come over for a cocktail.  Milt is some sort of computer programmer at a nondescript corporation, and he lives for the weekend so he can escape his cruddy job.

He was complaining about the multiple layers of bureaucracy at his company, and the endless amount of painfully dull meetings.  He told me how he chronically checks his watch, and often dozes off in front of his computer.  “Thank God it’s Friday,” he said, drinking the last of his beer.

I went to the refrigerator to fetch Milt another brew, and then it hit me. “What if the weekend were five days and the workweek were two days,” I thought.  Yes, what if?

I beelined it back to the room and handed the beleaguered Milt another alcoholic beverage. I then proceeded to unleash another epiphany.

“Milt, I’d like to open the ultimate company,” I began, “and its success will be based on the fact that all of our employees will only be required to put in a two-day workweek.”  Milt’s eyes flared and he began salivating.

“The stipulation is that employees get paid as much as anyone else in the industry, but they still must turn a profit,” I continued. “Now it’s up to the employees to determine exactly how to make it work.  I would suggest things like ten-minute meetings.  No bitching about work.  Efficient decisions.  No bureaucracy.  Get things done quickly and get home.”

Milt interrupted.  “Five days off,” he said, as if in a dream.  “That totals 260 days a year.  You leap-frog from 2 weeks off a year to 37 weeks off.”  His eyes grew wide with excitement.  “And I get to keep the same salary?” he said.  “Same benefits, too?”

“As long as you find a way to get all the work done,” I replied.  Milt was ecstatic.

Packets of Productivity

I started up a company.  I knew the 2-Day Workweek concept was so strong that it didn’t matter what I made or sold, so I pick ketchup packets.  Yes, the pre-packed little condiment packages you see at ballparks.

Then I realized our company couldn’t do any manufacturing, because that stuff involves assembly lines and shifts and hours of physical work, so we opted to be ketchup packet consultants.  You know, the guys who work with ketchup packet manufacturers and help them determine how much ketchup to put in the packet, where to put the dotted tear-line, what color to make the packet.  Those guys.

Our company of ketchup packet consultants immediately hired 200 people and set up shop in a downtown high rise.  Despite the glut of ketchup packet consultants already out there, we started kicking serious tail.

My employees loved the 2-day workweek.  Every day when they came to work, they were extremely energized.  There was no more casual chitchat in the hallways about what happened this past weekend.  There were no sustained breaks in the toilet spent reading the sports section.  There was no Internet surfing.  People got things done, and that wasn’t all.

E-mails decreased in volume.  Meetings were cut to five minutes, as people miraculously did away with idle banter and get to the meat of the matter.  Bitter inter-office politics were shelved in place of mutual cooperation.  There simply wasn’t time for all that other garbage.

The employees started living wonderful, beautiful lives.  Their families loved them, and their children flourished, receiving tons of attention.  The kids’ schoolwork started improving. Even charity work improved, as our employees found they had plenty of time to clean up a highway, adopt a pet, or help a senior citizen.

All was wonderful, fantastically wonderful.  As CEO and owner, I was paid like royalty, but my employees didn’t mind, because everyone was happy.  The Wall Street Journal caught wind of our sweet deal, and soon we were on page one, under the headline, “Little Time, Lots of Productivity.”

Our phones started ringing off the hook.  People were amazed that we were so profitable with such a tiny workweek.  I started getting offers from folks who wanted to buy my company.  These weren’t just puny offers, either.

These were the kind of offers you buy one of those big stinkin’ yachts with, complete with a tanned blonde sunning herself on the bow.  So I sold the business.  Who wouldn’t?  I walked away from the greatest company in the history of the world with a huge smile and my pockets stuffed with cash.

Two months later, Milt showed up for a cocktail.  This time he sat down and polished off half a six-pack before he uttered a word.

“It’s all gone horribly wrong,” he said.

2 Days Are 2 Short

“What happened?” I asked as he fought back tears.

“The new owners looked at the bottom line and decided they could double their profits simply by making everyone work two more days a week,” he whimpered.

He told me the owners assured the employees that it was still a sweet deal, considering a three-day weekend was intact.  There were promises of more pay, once the big numbers starting rolling in.  The employees, perhaps enticed by the allure of big bucks, decided to go for it.

The big pay never came because the big numbers never came.  In fact, profits went down as people returned to their more slovenly schedules.  With more time on their hands, the urgency deflated, and the meetings extended.  Soon all the efficiencies were gone.

Because the profits were down, the new owners said people might actually have to start working again on Fridays.  They were right back where they started.

As Milt recounted the rest of the story, the tears began to flow.  Eventually he was down on his knees, begging me to make another go of it.  “Mustard packets,” he pleaded.  “You could do mustard packets.”

I sighed and wearily shook my head.  Tempting, I told him, but I couldn’t.  Since I had boatloads of cash, I was on the zero-day work schedule.  “Sorry, Milt,” I said.  “It’s the only thing that can possibly beat the 2-day workweek.”

Click here to read more about guest illustrator Mark Smith

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Comments

  1. EPIPHANY CAUSES EPIC MESS! Please send out a warning to your readers advising that they not eat while reading your posts! I was calmly having a little breakfast while enjoying another Mischio epiphany when I burst out laughing and spewed chewed up Frosted Mini Wheats and milk all over the computer table. Will have to confess to the kids that this is why we don’t eat when using the computer. Thanks Greg! KH

  2. Carolyn Ferriano says:

    Luckily I wasn’t eating when I was reading the latest epiphany! I was laughing out loud picturing the ketchup packet consultants!!!! Really like the illustration!!

    • Greg Mischio says:

      Thanks Carolyn! I will pass along compliments to Mark Smith, our guest illustrator. Be sure to check out his bio on our Artists page, and follow the link to his website. A very talented guy.

      • Carolyn Ferriano says:

        Looked at his website and really like some of his watercolors.
        Thinking I might like one of them. Will think about it.

  3. Oh… the wheels are turning in Max’s head!

  4. Tobin Manley says:

    I can vouch for the benefits of consulting work. As an 8 year old in 1976 I made it known to my better-heeled friends in the neighborhood that a Big Wheel was the superior xmas present to lobby mom and dad for rather than that flash in the pan Stretch Armstrong, or equally ephemeral 6 Million Dollar Man action figure. So when my buddies got Big Wheels under the Christmas tree, I knew we had ourselves a biker gang’s worth of Big Wheels to dominant North Park street when summer rolled around.

    • Greg Mischio says:

      Tobin – kudos for the consulting gig. I hope you were well-compensated, and that you ruled North Park st. with an iron fist. As for Steve Austin being ephemeral, I take issue. I still have my action figure, he of red exercise suite and the accompanying blue and white space ship. I will go to my grave with the immortal words of Oscar Goldman ringing in my ears, “We can rebuild him. Make him faster, stronger…” Thank God Rudy Goldman was such a skilled surgeon.

  5. thanks for the cautionary tale of joining the 1% aka job creator class. it inspired my own epiphany. Seems the fiscal cliff is not being leveraged to its full potential, and stories of the millions of low wage part time workers have to start coming in on thanksgiving night to open the doors for millions of soulless consumers who will charge the doors. Lets simply place the fiscal cliff behind those doors, as they plunge to their grisly death we save the families from 18% compounding credit card bills and a blu ray copy of Madagascar 3D. w/ free rainbow wig.

    • Greg Mischio says:

      Dan – much thanks for this amazing epiphany. This is what Alter the Course is all about. We’re here to develop no-nonsense solutions to this messed up world, and I believe you’ve hit one out of the park, yessir. Now I’m off to go stand in line for Black Friday. I’ll leap off the cliff and over the chasm for a shot at that rainbow wig.

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