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Out of Our Minds
Monday, August 30, 2004 10:56 AM
Finding a work pattern that works
Anita Sharpe on Passionate Work

I spent much of the past weekend sitting on my front porch, sipping a latte and alternately working and reading a novel. When I grew tired of one activity, I switched to the other, or drove to Starbucks for another latte or took my dogs for a walk. I always find that I accomplish more -- and feel better about it -- when I do something similar to this, rather than relentlessly chasing 'leisure' after putting in a grueling five days. (Needless to say, I have also tried to remove 'grueling' as a modifier for any part of my day.)

It reminded me of a book that came out earlier this year, The Seven-Day Weekend , by Ricardo Semler, the CEO of Semco. Semco instituted total work/life flexibility as a business model 20 years ago. The company, which grew from $35 million in revenue to more than $200 million over the past six years, has virtually no turnover.

Writes Semler: 'Anyone who can eliminate the stress of an overbooked schedule, arrange a workweek to sleep according to biorhythms rather than a time clock and enjoy a sunny Monday on the beach after working through a chilly Sunday, will be a much more productive worker. It will ultimately benefit organizations because employees will find equilibrium in their professional, personal and spiritual lives. This isn't just an avant-garde approach to running a company. It's a sound strategy for business success and gaining competitive advantage.'

Could this be the new millennium replacement for last century's factory model for work?


Gautam Ghosh - 9/2/2004 6:07:32 AM
what often gets missed is the relentless focus that Semco gives to hiring the right kind of people and the business reviews that happen on a periodic basis

It is not a 'chill out and relax' company. You perform and you can enjoy !

Mindwalker - 9/1/2004 10:09:47 AM
Well, thanks to Anita's post, I followed up on this and ended up buying the book from Amazon. I did a google search on it and was just too intrigued after reading an excerpt to pass it up.

Anita, do you guys get a kickback of some sort for recommending certain titles? You should. *grin*

At the very least, thanks for turning me on to an idea that I had never considered before.
Curt Rosengren - 8/30/2004 7:06:48 PM
And on a slightly different note, here's an interesting related article...

Office can be hard place to get work done
Evelyn Rodriguez - 8/30/2004 1:10:37 PM
In the book, Semler states hundreds of corporations visit Semco to see how it operates first-hand. They are usually dumbfounded and make excuses as to why it won't work in THEIR company.

I saw the same thing happen to a few companies that were eager to learn more about Google's innovation practices (as well as other Silicon Valley ideas) but it hits them quickly that it's a radical cultural change: to what I call abundant mentality or non-zero sum game thinking. It's quite different mental map, or philosopy of life. You have to view life that way first before you'd make that the DNA of the company.

Curt Rosengren - 8/30/2004 11:40:19 AM
So if it clearly leads to more productive workers, why aren't more companies doing it?

Is it a question of trust? And if so, what does that say about the companies?


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