Weekends are dead, hurray for weekends

Posted by in Life

Last summer, I was approached by Blend Web Mix to give a short talk. For a moment, I thought very hard: what can I talk about that hasn’t been discussed many times before? What do I have a strong opinion on that I can illustrate with stories and data? And the lightbulb moment happened: the end of weekends as we know them.

In the end, BWM was more interested in me speaking about social media, but the question stayed somewhere in the back of my head. Do we still need weekends? Are they going to survive in this new economy? Let’s think this through…

What is a weekend anyway?

I asked my “good friend”: Merriam Webster dictionary… Here’s what it says:

: the end of the week : the period between the close of one work or school week and the start of the next; especially : Saturday and Sunday

This definition assumes that a week is composed of two phases: a work/school phase (Monday through Friday) and a non-work/school phase (Saturday & Sunday). It assumes that there are 48 complete hours where there is no work or school-related activity that is taking place. And this only happens in the lap of time known as the weekend.

Call me crazy, but it seems to me that a good chunk of the population is no longer concerned by this assumption. For many commercial and touristic activities, for example, not working on a Saturday would be suicidal. And, my professor hat, really hopes that students are making use of their downtime, not only to chill with friends over beer, but also to practice their craft and to dig into books and readings of all sorts. Would you not call that working? So what happens to weekends?

From “end of the week” to “48-hours break”

A few months after I first mentioned it to BWM, I stumbled upon a NBCNews article titled: The Concept of the Weekend Is Dying.

With 34% of the U.S. population being freelance (a number that is expected to rise up to 43% by 2020), it’s no wonder that the entire concept is being questioned. Author Katrina Onstad explains:

“I spoke to many contract workers about what their weekends looked like, and more than a few — especially those under 30 — would laugh really, really hard at the very idea of a “weekend.””

This doesn’t mean we should be working non-stop, of course. In her book The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Two Days Off, a real manifesto about taking back the weekend, Onstad points a finger at the overworking trend that has been polluting a lot of industries (who hasn’t heard the infamous “are you taking your afternoon?” when leaving the office at 6:00 pm?) She emphasizes the benefits of the rest and recovery of a 48-hours non-work phase in a seven days week.

Does this need to happen on Saturday and Sunday? In my opinion, the question is still up in the air. I can see a lot of economical, social and environmental benefits at not having the entire population on the same schedule. And don’t even get me started on the depressing opposition between work and pleasure in most societies… That’s enough material for another blog post!

What do you think? Are your weekends sacred? Are you able to spend an entire 48-hours without working? Do you feel like it should happen on a time-frame defined by society? Share your opinions in the comments below.

Photo by Tim Mossholder