This year, I have not asked for a pay rise: I have asked to work less. Here are the reasons why and what are my plans to use this extra day of freedom.
My hunch is working less benefits more to an individual than earning more money. I want to invest more time in skills external to my professional domain to be even more happy.
Time > Money. When you have enough money to live/survive.
I have questioned my work-life balance multiple times in the past. I went from regular 9 to 5 jobs to freelancing — it was not the freedom I expected. I also experimented with flexible management whilst being the CTO of a tech/marketing startup.
I wonder what can be alternative options to balance out professional and personal life. Quitting my job to travel and work for a remote company? Looking for an employer who offers unlimited holidays? Or simply investigating the working policy of BBC R&D?
The BBC has a great working policy
If startups and large companies in London might offer a substantial wages, it turns out the BBC competes with a great flexible working policy:
- you can ask for unpaid leaves;
- you can also benefit of a career break — up to a year;
- you also have the ability to move part time.
This is not granted: you have to prove you are responsible for what you ask. It means you have to work out metrics and to assess with your management it can be predictable and that it does not affect negatively your team's work and organisation.
In other words: the employee absence has to be known by their colleagues. They have to know how they will deal with it, and one has to ensure ahead of time their responsibilities are fulfilled when out of the office.
Less money is competitive?
One might wonder why being paid less/working less can be a competitive advantage.
It turns out it enables something rare: more spare time. Especially when this is about regular spare time. Time for creativity. Time for personal projects. Time for self-development. Time for experiments.
Quality time you hardly get after office hours.
Because you are tired. Because you have other things to do. Because you cannot work all day long without avoiding a burnout.
What about the money?
Working a day less per week means a 20% wage cut.
A couple of months ago, I did not know I would work less as of September 2015… but it happens I already prepared myself to need less money to live. Less money for an equal-ity of life.
Because I did not rely on earning more to live better. But rather by caring more about what I already had.
I can compensate the money I will not save anymore by cycling to work and by hosting travellers via Airbnb when I am away.
The productivity hypothesis
I suspect that by working less, and by focusing even more on what matters to me outside of work, working less can improve one's work-life balance.
I guess I am already happy at work: for the first time ever, I did not want to quit my job after travelling for a month. I am simply happy and curious to try out another route to benefit of free time on a more regular basis – a weekly basis – instead of waiting for a year to wander in wild landscapes with a tent and a rucksack.
News organisations regularly relay the benefit of working less. They claim the increase of happiness is valuable for businesses. And it seems that a systematic 4-day week works for some companies. I also know some other folks who incorporate work flexibility at the heart of their corporate culture.
And when the culture leads, everything else follows (video, 28 minutes).
Thanks God It's Thursday
Now my weeks end on Thursday evenings, does it benefit only to my Game of Thrones watching in progress?
Well, I have a few other plans which I really wanted to do. Things which are hardly doable after office hours without sacrificing my social life:
- to get more in-depth and practical skills in machine learning;
- to master artisan bread making;
- to dive more into cheese making;
- to practice and to improve my farming skills by volunteering at a local organic farm.
But first, I will resume and complete the writing of my Node.js book (in French). More on this in an upcoming blog post. Especially to explain why it takes me so long.
It is about time.