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The Seven-Day Weekend : Changing the Way Work Works
FOREWARNING ?Sometimes I sits and thinks, sometimes I just sits.' ?SATCHEL PAIGE NEVER MIND THE CHEESE'who moved my weekend?I'm serious. Where did it go? One minute Saturday and Sunday formed an oasis for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. The next thing we know the cell phone is ringing, e-mail is piling up, and the fax machine is vomiting paper onto the floor. Paradise lost. Welcome to the seven- day workweek. I've got a much better idea, though, one that I've been road testing now for many years: the seven-day weekend. If the workweek is going to slop over into the weekend'and there's no hope of stopping that from happening'why can't the weekend, with its precious restorative moments of playtime, my time, and our time, spill over into the workweek? It can and, I believe, must happen.
In fact, the seven-day weekend is already happening at Semco, an unusual company that I'll introduce you to in the pages ahead. What you are about to read is a combination of a political manifesto, a business case history, and an anthropological study. Before you shudder, groan, and heave the book across the room, I'll hasten to add that it's also a road map to personal and business success. We have to find a better way for work to work. The seven-day workweek is shaping up as a personal, societal, and business disaster. It robs people of passion and pleasure, destroys family and community stability, and sets up business organizations to ultimately fail once they've burned out their employees and burned through ever more manipulative and oppressive strategies. The seven-day weekend approach is an alternative that bridges the gap between the airy theories of workplace democracy and the nitty-gritty practice of running a profitable business. I warn you, it's messy, inefficient, and hugely rewarding.
I've chosen the metaphor of the seven-day weekend as an anchor. You're welcome to take the turn of phrase literally or figuratively. But don't kid yourself: I'm not talking about abolishing work. A seven-day weekend, however pleasant a fantasy of endless strolls on the beach, will mix work time with personal time in new and possibly disconcerting ways. Don't worry, though'it also doesn't imply that you'll be forever tethered to your laptop. Your first reaction may be dismay at the loss of your conventional weekend; after all, we naively define weekends as free time, personal days, idleness. But that definition is outdated. The traditional weekend and workweeks ended long ago.
This book faces that fact and explores ways of making work more fun, and of finding a balance between work and private passions, so both can be significantly gratifying. To do that, we must reorganize the workplace, both physically and culturally. At Semco, we've spent twenty-five years doing just that, primarily by constantly questioning the way we do things. When we started, everyone said we wouldn't last. Now Semco employs three thousand people working in three countries in manufacturing, professional services, and high- tech software. But even now, I continue to hear that our experiments could never work anywhere else. Yet we go on proving that in redistributing the weekend across the workweek, our employees find balance and Semco makes money. In that regard alone, we are an excellent business case study.
We fit neatly into any MBA examination of success. It's very simple'the repetition, boredom, and aggravation that too many people accept as an inherent part of working can be replaced with joy, inspiration, and freedom. That's what I wish for everyone who reads this book. Ricardo Semler (Lying in a hammock with a laptop and my little boy, having fed the ducks at a nearby pond) On a Monday in May ONE ANY DAY n Ask why? n Give up control. n Change the way work works. &.
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