There are astronomical reasons for the day to be a day, there are astronomical reasons for the year to be a year, but there are no astronomical reasons for the week to be a week. My father, Carlos Manuel Varsavsky, who was an astronomer, knew this well.

So my father thought of another week. A better week. A week that lasts 6 days. A week in which you work for 4 days and rest two and yet the country’s GDP stays the same.

How? Well stop reading now and see if you get it.

Did you think that we could work 10 hours per day instead of 8?

No, that’s not it. My father, who unfortunately passed away in 1983 at the young age of 49, had a better idea. But a bit more complex.

The solution to how to get everyone to work one day less, and for GDP to stay the same, has to do with not everyone working and resting at the same time as we do now. Currently we have a system of a 7 day week in which most of us work 5 days and rest 2 and work 40 hours. My father’s idea consists in randomly splitting the population in three groups, let’s call them Red, Blue and White groups to make the French and the Americans happy. Once people are randomly distributed (everyone in the same family gets the same week), then each group is ready to work and rest but not simultaneously. Society would have one third of the people who follow the red week, another third the blue week and the last third the white week. Everyday there would be two groups working and one resting, rotating.

Why does GDP stay the same? Because all the fixed investment of society gets used every day. Every school, factory, office building, road, everything that we invested trillions in building would be used every day, the thing is, not by the same people.

There is also a 9 day week possibility to this idea. Work 6 but every weekend is 3 days long. Not bad.

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wixho on January 31, 2010  · 

nice idea,
but have the feeling that as an employee would end up working all days and in a multinational also every hour available.
maybe it would be more beneficial to ease all those social and environmental constraints, though.

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Martin Varsavsky on February 1, 2010  · 

i would argue the opposite, that it is more likely to generate employment because at least for a while not all businesses are ready to work non stop

Pablo on February 1, 2010  · 

The only problem is that if you are blue and your friends are red, how to share a weekend with them ?

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Steven on February 1, 2010  · 

What if we all started to work in shifts… no more “offices are closed at 16h00” … and the roads would be used at night as well…
I guess most religions will be fighting against this idea…ain’t the saturday & Sunday holy in some religions where one should not work?

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Claudio Noguera on February 1, 2010  · 

Nice idea, but I don’t see we’ll ever see that happening.

I sometimes thought about a decimal systems for time measuring. There’s no reason for a day to have 24 hours, why not 10? And an hour shoud have 100 minutes. Also, my week had 10 days, although I agree 6 is better.

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acrual on February 1, 2010  · 

Great idea, but isn’t a week a week because of the moon phase?

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Charbax on February 1, 2010  · 

Google has 20% time, the Government should enforce the same on a national level. Everyone should be able to do whatever they want 20% of the time, at least. Organizing the 20% time shall happen through Internet Computer systems, let every company suggest activities that anyone can do if they want with them, let enterpreneurs suggest projects that anyone can participate in in their 20% times, if they want. Basically put everyone’s wishes in a database and make sure everyone can do what they want 20% of the time or more.

Also there should be opportunities to participate in learning projects in those 20% time, to thus gain skills in areas of interest.

What will result is a much better society, because people will be happier, will see more opportunities to work on more interesting things.

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steven on February 1, 2010  · 

happens only in large firms where there are no deadlines and lot’s of people in an R&D lab…we operate at >100% where extra hours are not compensated (even if they did it would all go to taxes) just to get everything working at the contracted time…
and even now these big firms are cutting a lot of resources… look at Sun&Oracle, HP, IBM … and these are the “software” people…also at Microsoft there were a lot of layoffs last year

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Borja on February 1, 2010  · 


But in fact, we have the 3 teams!
When in Spain is early Saturday, in USA are still working. When in Spain is late Sunday, in Japan they begin their week.
I´m not considering, lots of countries work on Saturday and in many places there is not a weekend.


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stefanos on February 3, 2010  · 

There is a reason religions imposed thousand of years ago a single, common day for resting. That is the same reason they imposed “holy” days, also known as vacations. People need periods of rest and it is best if those are coordinated so people can spend leisure time together.
Your father’s argument clearly increases workers’ productivity and efficiency of invested capital, at least in the short run, it is not clear that it increases welfare in the long run. The reason you pay overtime for night shifts and weekend shifts is to compensate for the inconvenience you are imposing on workers.

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Charbax on February 3, 2010  · 

Thousands of years ago, we didn’t have Google Calendar that could be synchronized across with families, friends etc, we didn’t have that Calendar in the pocket on Android or iphone that can ring whenever we have new meetings with other people to attends to. This means we should adapt society accordingly, be much more flexible with holidays, free time, be much more flexible with the time workers spend on their core competency and how much time they may spend on acquiring new skills, and on exploring other activities which may help them realize that they can be much more efficient and satisfied doing new things.

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Steven on February 3, 2010  · 

on the other hand…if you organize an event…. only 1/3rd can come to your event… so you have to plan 3 events…
while previously 1 big event could get almost everybody interested to join…

and to plan those 3 events you have to take 3 organisators… from all teams … let’s hope they can meet & discuss everything… it’s as if they live&work NEXT to each other 🙂

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Charbax on February 3, 2010  · 

Organizing events can be automatic now, you tell the online activities and calendar system when you like working, what you like doing, what you would like to do, where you would like to go, who you would like to meet, then it outputs a 24h/24, 365day/365, 7days/7 customized schedule for every person. No need to have everyone work, eat, sleep, have holidays at the same time. It will be much more efficient when every person gets customized working, study and free time schedules.

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Matthias Gallé on February 3, 2010  · 

Some time ago, I got interested in the work “On the Possibility of Changing the Present Seven Day Week” of your father. Unfortunately I couldn’t found it (I even send a mail to the Ford Foundation I think). Actually it is during this search that I start following your blog months ago. Do you know if there is a place (a book, an online paper) where I can find it? I’m interested in how he would bypass the obvious social problem (you split up family and friends) and in the argumentatation in general.
Puede ser en español también. Thanks a lot!

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reanimator on February 4, 2010  · 

You got here a lot of reasons not to implement it.
Sorry, bad idea.
Maybe sounds good, but not practical.

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Haim on February 5, 2010  · 


It’s not such a bad idea.
It could unify Jews, Muslims and Christians against it!


PD #6 is right: the lunar calendar is 28 days, therefore a week of 7 days is a perfect match.

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Morten Sondergaard on February 17, 2010  · 


Love the idea – where do I sign up 🙂

Morten Sondergaard

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