The 8 day week

We are so used to it, that we regard the 7 day week as normal and reasonable. All over the world, people work for 5 days and have a two day weekend. The weekend may be Saturday/Sunday or Friday/Saturday, but the idea is the same. However, there is no intrinsic logic in this system. The weeks do not fit into the months or into a year. The nature of our society is that some people need to work at the weekend, which complicates matters and is not good for family life. Even looking at the names of days in various languages shows confusion is rife. In German, Wednesday is Mittwoch – “middle of the week”; it is day 3 of a 7 day week, day 4 is the middle. In Italian, Saturday is “Sabato” – literally “Sabbath”; this is incorrect.

I think it is time for change and I would like to propose a new, modern, logical system that is compatible with 21st Century life.

My plan would result in a more relaxing, family-friendly lifestyle, which also promotes greater productivity from society as a whole. But it would be a radical change requiring many ancient traditions to be lost. First, we can dispense with the idea of the month. We will also get rid of all current public holidays. The week would be 8 days and consist of two 4-day chunks, which I will call “A” and “B”. These chunks would fit neatly into the year, with a day left over, which would be a global holiday – maybe on the Spring Equinox.

The broad idea is that everyone works 4 days on, 4 days off. Having vacation would still be possible, but it would not be necessary to have too many days, as taking 4 days off would yield a nice 12 day break. I calculate that, by working only a slightly longer day and having 16 vacation days per year, people would work nearly as many hours per year as they do now in most Western countries.

If that was all there was to the system, it would be quite attractive, but there is a further twist: not everyone works the same 4 days. About half of society work on the “A” cycle and the other half work on the “B”, so weekend leisure activities are not over-subscribed and idle during the week. Shop workers just do not need to work at weekends any more. In fact, almost all of the infrastructure – schools, shops, offices, factories – would function 8 days a week, but with two sets of staff/users. This means, for example, that a school with capacity for 1000 pupils could now take 2000 with only the addition of more lockers. Almost everyone would be “job sharing”, with a “shadow” person doing the same job half of the time.

I will leave you to consider the implications of this plan at your leisure. I really cannot see any downsides – after the initial culture shock. I have not described all the details of how the calendar would be organized, but, trust me, I have them all worked out. I am just awaiting approval from the General Council of the United Nations and we will be ready to roll out the 8 day week.

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0 thoughts about “The 8 day week
  • Interesting idea Collin. Your math is a bit fuzzy though. I see 5 days left over in a standard year (or just bad luck for the A or B team for any particular year. Or…a refreshing ‘shift’ to the calendar each year.

  • Good point Dave – this falls into the area of fine details that I chose not to ramble on about. Initially I was going for A/B “shift” each year. Then I realized that the year was a bit of an artificial unit. I would organize things over a 4 year period. This period would perhaps start on a Spring Equinox and would have 5 “global holiday” days – one at the start, one at the end and the others evenly distributed with 364/368 days between them. That takes care of leap years too …

  • You wrote, in the very start
    ” All over the world, people work for 5 days and have a two day weekend ”
    Sir, not in the whole world but just in companies of developed countries. People in developing countries like PAkistan, India, Srilanka, Bagladesh, Nepal etc work ’14’ days in a week…. 14 would be surprising, but its realizable.

  • Zeeshan: Thanks for the comments. I would be interested to understand more about the work patterns in developing countries. How do you schedule 14 work days?

    • :p
      Actually, I meant to ay that we developing nations work hard and spend more time to get the same level of success which developed nations acheive in half or quarter time. Also, in developing nations there are very scarce and feeble chance of becoming successful in less time. So, although 6 working days are officially declared in these countries (most of them, so far I knw) people really work on sunday and even off-job time to accomplish thw=eir tasks…

      Thats why I was declaring it 14 working days in a week.. I myself being an engineering student, work (near exams day not usually) the whole week including sunday to achieve my goals and to get that minimum level of sucess which is supposed frm me… To get distinction, I sometime need to reduce my sleeping time and devote to studies or work assigned to me.,..

      Thanx for bearing me,…

  • Zeeshan: Again, thank you for your contribution. You are quite right to pick me up on my blinkered view of the world. I am always critical of many Americans, who have not travelled and assume the rest of the world is just like the US. Now, I am doing that as well!

  • Rest of the world is really non-american. I am critical of many americans that they think either America as World or World as America… I hope your concern about “rest of the world” would reward you serendipity… Tyanks for all, Mr. Walls.

    • Colin, with apologies for the lateness of this reaction (sorry but I was busy with daytime tv and writing my PhD thesis at the original time of its posting); three reactions occur. (1) the Beatles “8 Days A Week” song from their first album, but they were just squeezing 8 days of loving into one week – a bit like your asian correspondent, though less industrious. (2)The second was the “6 day calendar” that operated very successfully at my school, Reigate Grammar, during the 1960s. 6 days were only mon-friday though; the school timetable was entirely listed in terms of Day 1 … to Day 6. So, if monday in the first week of term was Day 1, in the 2nd week monday would be Day 6 and tuesay would hold the Day 1 lesons. I know that this sound completely nuts to anyone who didn’t experience it, but it actually worked, and no one was confused. Oh, the reason for this crazy design? It was to allow each of the “six years” of the school to have their own exclusive use of the playing fields etc on their “games day” each week.
      (3)But my third reaction should be salutary, if you care to look at the amusing but shortlived “revolutionary calendar” that followed the french revolution (was it guillotined?).
      So, Colin, good luck with your idea – other options really can exist.

  • to quote u [ .Saturday is “Sabato” – literally “Sabbath”; this is incorrect.]
    actually it is correct . the catholic church changed their worship day to Sunday. ask any Jewish person .
    Also I do not think pple would need so much vacation time, do to the 4 days already off .
    starting a fresh calender minus all the stupid federal, national,religious holidays would be great tho
    found this while looking for any past civilizations with an eight day week..

  • Hmm. Interesting idea. But that would mean A half of the people in the world would have a tough time synching and interacting their schedules with the B half….. Google would have two work forces that work at completely different times? Don’t think you can segregate big projects that easily. I vote for the 8 Day work week, but 5 days work, 3 days off with national holidays giving you an occasion 4 day weekend.

  • I work in a restaurant at times it is busy, but if these were to be unknown, I wouldn’t know before. I thought of still working 5 days for those that do, & then 3 days off, & no bank holidays. but 4 + 4 = less working days, need to employ more, when some earning less.

  • Or could go the other way? 6 day week, & then no extra holidays. How about both? Alternate would = like 7 day week, but could’ve 8 days winter ½ & 6 days summer ½, & then maybe 2 months summer holiday!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2009/06/25/the-8-day-week/