When will we escape the prison of work?

Ending the 40-hour workweek

4 min readNov 4, 2020


Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Because your position is exempt from overtime pay, your salary will compensate you for all hours worked.

-Standard employment agreement

Through a glass, sharply

I don’t know what he thought about me. He never looked through the aquarium glass.

“That’s the life,” I thought to myself. “Be outside all day, have a sense of accomplishment, no one around telling you what to do or how to do it, no phone calls, no IM, no email.”

I kept on thinking how much I’d love to trade places with him. How I was tired of building PnL reports, reading about another boring power plant, handicapping regional cap-and-trade policies, and debating second-order greeks with risk managers (read: people highly paid to make sure that we weren’t cheating the house).

In short, how I was wasting my life.

Seven stories above Broadway, I went back to trading.

He kept cleaning windows.

One-upping Faust

We all have times where we’re tired of working. It’s part of the human condition.

Labor laws are well intentioned, but they often have unintended effects. The 40-hour work week was a big win for American labor a century ago. Hourly workers get paid overtime past that point, and employers are less likely to pressure employees to work longer.

But I hypothesize that this law effectively set the modern minimum workweek for us all, especially information workers (salaried folk).

Mu is akin to “does not compute.”

Fun fact: Did you know that people in the United Kingdom can opt out of the maximum work week. In other words, said opt-er can work more hours if they choose to. 🤔😬 [1]

That’s great for freedom and all, but what is needed is the ability to opt out of the minimum work week. Imagine if you could elect a “half-time” option when receiving a job offer. Sounds pretty good, huh?




Not Siri. Sri (shree'). Navy SEAL, podcaster, machine learning, father. Trying to understand jazz. Trying to find huevos rancheros.