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4-Day Work Week?
Old 07-29-2017, 01:39 PM   #1
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4-Day Work Week?

I'm still not ready for early retirement (financially), however work is at a point where it is becoming mentally and physically draining, and it feels like the weekends are the only time that I have to really live the life that I want.

I think I could get by fine on 4/5 of my salary while working 4 days a week. I might have to decrease my savings to a more normal level, but I feel like I have enough savings to let it grow without too much contribution. My concerns are that it might put early retirement off further into the future than I'd like. Also, my employer might view it as one foot out the door. Another option that I thought of was contract work for the same company.

Anyone have experience with a 4 day work week or contract work, and how to approach it?
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:05 PM   #2
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I dropped down to 3 days a week at age 50. It does help a lot with the ability to catch up on sleep, keep up with family and other non-work aspects of life. Just be aware that even though it may be "partial retirement" it still feels a lot more like having a full time job than retirement. While the work load is certainly reduced, the responsibilities are still there and so are all the nagging concerns and stresses we bring home from work. Those didn't disappear until full retirement 5 years later. A night and day difference.

Another point worth mentioning: Many companies have peculiar rules about part time employment - sometimes very much in the employee's favor, sometimes not. Familiarize yourself with them before formulating your strategy.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:07 PM   #3
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I worked a 4 day work week at least a year before I cut back to 3. I eventually entered into an agreement where I worked 960 hours my last year. The company was ok with this reduction because I had my clients covered by my assistant and I agreed to take emails and phone calls mon-fri regardless of where I was. I was an hourly paid employee with an hourly rate, so my pay reduced as I reduced hours. I didn't get health insurance, holiday pay, vacation pay my last year. The key to pulling it off is to convince the boss that business will go on as usual.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:16 PM   #4
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Anyone have experience with a 4 day work week or contract work, and how to approach it?
Not personally, but a friend did this for his last two years in the rat race. Instead of taking Friday or Monday off to get a long weekend, he took every Wednesday so he never had to w*rk more than two consecutive days. I though it was a bit odd, but he loved it. One little advantage I could see was that holidays seldom fall on Wednesday so some weeks he would get an extra day off just like everyone else.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:24 PM   #5
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I dropped down to 3 days a week at age 50. It does help a lot with the ability to catch up on sleep, keep up with family and other non-work aspects of life. Just be aware that even though it may be "partial retirement" it still feels a lot more like having a full time job than retirement. While the work load is certainly reduced, the responsibilities are still there and so are all the nagging concerns and stresses we bring home from work. Those didn't disappear until full retirement 5 years later. A night and day difference.

Another point worth mentioning: Many companies have peculiar rules about part time employment - sometimes very much in the employee's favor, sometimes not. Familiarize yourself with them before formulating your strategy.
Agree completely. I am at 3 days and it's very much still like work. One thing to prepare for that might surprise you is the exclusion from some things at work. At first it bothered me that I was not invited to certain meetings. Then I realized, I was the one to choose to step away and that they were only doing what came natural. Still, it feels a bit strange being at work and not being "all in".

On the benefits, in my situation, less than 3 days and I don't get health insurance. I view this similar to contract work if I have to start paying for what now is a benefit. I'm going to work 3 days for a while longer and then be done. No contract work for me.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Timeisright View Post
I'm still not ready for early retirement (financially), however work is at a point where it is becoming mentally and physically draining, and it feels like the weekends are the only time that I have to really live the life that I want.

I think I could get by fine on 4/5 of my salary while working 4 days a week. I might have to decrease my savings to a more normal level, but I feel like I have enough savings to let it grow without too much contribution. My concerns are that it might put early retirement off further into the future than I'd like. Also, my employer might view it as one foot out the door. Another option that I thought of was contract work for the same company.

Anyone have experience with a 4 day work week or contract work, and how to approach it?
Megacorp actually allowed it. I had a gal that w*rked for me on the 4 day week. Like someone else mentioned it was different from the benefits standpoint.

Later people who were part time were early RIFs.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:45 PM   #7
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Our firm had an established program for less than full-time work. Basically, just about everything was a % of a full-timer, except for health insurance which was all for 50% or higher or none for 49% and lower.

I worked 80% for a while for family reasons, then later dropped down to 50% to travel less then went back to 80% for a special client project and then back to 50% for the rest of my time there. It was wonderful.

None of our clients had any inkling that I was part-time since I normally worked on many clients at any given time anyway.... the same with most of my colleagues... obviously my boss and a few others knew.

Unfortunately, while I had a lighter schedule it was hard with client demands to schedule time away because conference calls were frequently changed at the last minute, urgent client/partner demands, etc. For example, it would be almost impossible to say I would not be available on any Thursday (now my normal golf day) due to client demands.

While I didn't have a problem being on-call all the time I did have a problem with having to cancel plans that I had made for personal stuff in the afternoon because some client decided to move the previously scheduled conference call from the morning to the afternoon. After that started happening all too frequently, I decided it was time to hand it up.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:49 PM   #8
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I went through a period of "partial layoff" where I went to 20 hrs/week. I loved it and Megacorp's policy was generous in that they paid full benefits. However, if you're salaried, beware the fact that project managers, bosses, clients, etc., may still expect you to attend meetings on your off days or continue to meet the same workload. I had to put my foot down more than once.
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Old 07-29-2017, 03:18 PM   #9
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It will be a lot easier if there is some sort of established part-time work program, if not a full blown work from home program. Personally I've done both, it isn't all that different from just full time work, but it does offer more flexibility to do things like go to grocery store when you want, sleep as much as you need to, or get an emergency chore done. On the other hand, it requires putting more conscious effort towards time management.
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Old 07-29-2017, 03:24 PM   #10
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I semi-ERd two years ago. I work 3 days a week, about 43 weeks a year. I would echo what others have said about work responsibilities and stress not disappearing entirely as if would with full ER. However, the chance to have more leisure time and be able to have time for family has been good.

I own my own company so for me it was a bit easier than for someone working for someone else. All I did was "fire" most of the small customers and some of the more time consuming and less lucrative ones. That alone helped with reducing stress.

Luckily we live frugally and I still earn enough to cover our yearly expenditure so the full ER pot is still growing (albeit more slowly than before).

I can see myself doing this for between another 2 to 6 years and retiring fully before I reach 50.
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4-Day Work Week?
Old 07-29-2017, 04:00 PM   #11
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4-Day Work Week?

So I'm older, 63, I've started a 3 day week a couple of weeks ago. I do sneak in a couple of extra hours here and there but I always did.

Guess what - I'm loving it. So for as long as it last or until I say I've had enough... I'll keep to this schedule. I love the job but 2 knee replacements and too relatives and friend my age turning up with cancer has me convinced... time to smell the roses and enjoy each and every day. If you can do it...perhaps do something you have a passion for.
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Old 07-29-2017, 04:51 PM   #12
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I worked 3 days a week for a 6 months, after my older son was born... Company policy allowed it and this was the year 2000 - and engineers who knew their stuff were hard to find/hire. I was good at my job and had a lot of product knowledge... Then I transferred jobs within megacorp and new boss wanted full time - we compromised at 4 days a week. I worked this schedule for 13 years until I retired.

That said - when I first approached about part time my immediate supervisor didn't like it... fortunately, he brought it up to his manager - who thought it was the perfect solution for work life balance for me... and told him to make it happen. When I transferred I suspect they expected me to go back to full time when the youngest was 3 or 4... So I started getting asked when I was going full time - and that they'd really prefer me to go full time. I replied that part time was working for me - and until they forced me - I was staying 80% (4 days a week.) I am 100% certain I was passed up for promotions/raises... but I was ok with that trade off.

My mega allowed for health benefits if you worked more than 20hrs/week. My salary was prorated (80%). Vacation was accrued at 80%. Holidays confused the heck out of them - we finally agreed that if it was a scheduled work day - I was paid for the day. That worked out in most years within a few hours of 80% of the holiday pay... so I was fine with that.

Friends asked to go part time later... when it was less of a robust job market... they were turned down... So make sure you are needed before you make your case.
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Old 07-29-2017, 05:55 PM   #13
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I'll let you know how 3 days a week feels. I'm a few weeks away from downshifting from a 5-day week to a 3-day week.

Like others have said, I'm sure work will still feel like a big part of my life. No surprise there.

I think the main problem for me is that I'm feeling the itch to start a new phase of life, and continuing to work PT at my old job feels like "less of the same," still running basically the same pattern. I have a sense that I'd be better off just cutting free from it entirely, and that's what I'll probably end up doing after a year or three. But I want to give it a chance first and see how it feels.
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:22 PM   #14
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Last week I worked 4.5 days, 40 hours. M-W-F at home. Drove in two days.
I'm basically a lazy person, and each week look for excuses to work from home. Boss does not seem to mind. I'm committed thru 2017, and can see working OMY if flex-time continues to work with manager. Working less than 40 hours is not attractive to some companies. For example, every hour I work is billed at 1.8X or more to a wealthy landowner (lol). Company is not wanting to reduce my hours as it adversely affects EBITDA.
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Old 07-29-2017, 08:08 PM   #15
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One more consideration. As a salaried employee - it was "expected" that you'd work more than an 8 hour day at my megacorp. So when I was full time the schedule was closer to 45-55 hours/wee. My 4 day schedule was nominally 32hours... but in reality it was more like 36+....

A friend negotiated a part time schedule of nominally 30 hours per week - 6 hour days. She gave it up very quickly because she was constantly having to stay late or come in early for meetings or to put out fires.... So if you go part time - I strongly urge you to do it by cutting down the # of days rather than cutting down the # of hours in a day.
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Old 07-30-2017, 05:38 AM   #16
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....Working less than 40 hours is not attractive to some companies. For example, every hour I work is billed at 1.8X or more to a wealthy landowner (lol). Company is not wanting to reduce my hours as it adversely affects EBITDA.
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One more consideration. As a salaried employee - it was "expected" that you'd work more than an 8 hour day at my megacorp. So when I was full time the schedule was closer to 45-55 hours/wee. My 4 day schedule was nominally 32hours... but in reality it was more like 36+....

A friend negotiated a part time schedule of nominally 30 hours per week - 6 hour days. She gave it up very quickly because she was constantly having to stay late or come in early for meetings or to put out fires.... So if you go part time - I strongly urge you to do it by cutting down the # of days rather than cutting down the # of hours in a day.
Similar story here in that FT were expected to work ~50 hours a week on average over the course of a year... so as an 80% person I was expected to work ~2,100 hours a year rather than ~2,600 hours. Same expectations but times 80%.

My billing rate was also many times my direct compensation.... but I convinced them that 50% or 80% of pb4uski was much better than 0% of pb4uski and they saw the wisdom in that and were willing to play ball. One of the benefits of being FI was that I could afford to walk away and they knew that.
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:12 AM   #17
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Depends on your role and your MC. With a lot of things these days, even a 5 day week means being on email near 24/7. So a 4 day would not yield relief.

Better be close to ER though, many co's might indeed view this as "one foot out the door". No chance for raises or promotions in the future. Your culture may vary.
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Old 07-30-2017, 09:59 AM   #18
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Permit a divergent thought on the 4 day week.

Below, find a pic of the kind of "weaving shed" that my mom and dad worked in their adult lives. Dad fixed looms and mom was a "weaver" at the Lorraine Textile Mills in Rhode Island.

I have a perfect memory of my first trip to the thundering noise of hundreds of huge looms powered by a single steam boiler engine that shook the walls and floors of the mill. I was age 5 in 1941.

Dad told me that they had just installed some gigantic lace looms, brought in from England... perhaps 15 feet wide. What made them so special, was the new technology... ( we didn't call it technology back then...) What made the looms special, was a "new" simple, rope, spool and knob mechanism that automated a number of mechanical changes in the working part of the loom. Over the longer term, it would reduce the number of "weaver" and "dropwire girls" needed for the 24/7 hours of operation.

Dad was a bit of a dreamer. He said... "Bobby... What this means is that some day, your mom and I will only have to work 4 days a week.

Such were the hopes and dreams of America, 75+ years ago.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:27 AM   #19
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I think controlling access to work-related media would have a bigger impact today than physical days away. Both would be great.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:45 AM   #20
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Thanks for all of the responses. It's tempting to go to 4 days a week. I think I'll wait until essentially my stash far outweighs my contributions to try something like this. I agree that it will likely be seen as an end to my career, and I'm not quite ready for that (financially).

Has anyone changed their employment to contract work with the same employer? It seems like that could be a way to make more money and get away from some of the office politics. If so, how do you approach that?
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