The four day work week -our new reality?

Working four days and having long weekends
Belgium moves to 4 days
Same hours, just in four days
Spanish politicians plan to test the four-day week in Spain
Participants in a trial in Spain will enjoy a 3 day weekend every week
Companies that have tried the four-day work week
A mix of success and failures
Japan: experiment with positive results
Greater productivity and happier employees
New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern favours the four-day work week
More free time = more time to consume
In Reykjavik, the results were mixed
The trial in Iceland was not a success
United States: Shake Shack and Basecamp tried it
Impossible to compete
Sweden: six-hour work days
Greater worker satisfaction and less sick leave in Sweden
Happiness vs economy
Employee happiness is important
More spending in free time
Farewell to 20th-century work
Jack Ma favours a 12-hour workday, 6 days a week
Will the work week be changed soon?
A growing movement
Working four days and having long weekends

The concept of a Monday to Friday workweek has long gone unchallenged. However, the dogma of five workdays is now being questioned.

Belgium moves to 4 days

Belgium recently surprised Europe by announcing a labour reform that will reduce the workweek to just four days a week.

Same hours, just in four days

Employees will still work the same hours, but the hours will be reorganized and completed differently. Employees will be able to choose if they want to work just four days a week or if they prefer to work fewer hours every day but head into the office five days a week.

Spanish politicians plan to test the four-day week in Spain

In Spain, the four-day working week is also set to be tested at the behest of the young Spanish politician Íñigo Errejón.

Participants in a trial in Spain will enjoy a 3 day weekend every week

Around 6,000 employees from 200 small and medium-sized companies will have their weekends extended by one day, with full pay. The trial phase will last for a minimum of one year; however, it is still unclear when it will begin

Companies that have tried the four-day work week

Software Delsol is a Spanish company with 180 employees who work from Monday to Thursday. The office has a philosophy of labor flexibility that includes teleworking and aims to increase efficiency by making employees' day-to-day lives easier.

A mix of success and failures

The company is an exception, though. Even internationally, it is difficult to find businesses with a four-day work week. Several have tried it: some successful, some not so successful.

Japan: experiment with positive results

In 2019, Microsoft Japan tested the four-day work week. According to CNN, the results were positive.

Greater productivity and happier employees

The company saw a 40% increase in productivity and workers seemed happier. In addition, some expenses were reduced: electricity costs fell by 23%.

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern favours the four-day work week

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has advocated the four-day work week with two objectives. The first one is to increase the welfare and productivity of the working masses.

More free time = more time to consume

The second objective is to give people more time to consume, travel and thus relaunch the country's economy after it was hit like so many others by the coronavirus crisis.
Has her appeal worked? In part. Some companies are implementing the new work week, but there is a lot of reluctance.

In Reykjavik, the results were mixed

Iceland ran a trial of the four-day work week that can, in some ways, be considered a failure. In the nation's capital of Reykjavik, a group of public employees worked four days a week for a period of time.

The trial in Iceland was not a success

It did not improve their productivity or result in any significant savings. However, the workers did spend less time at the office, and they were assumedly happier because of that.

United States: Shake Shack and Basecamp tried it

In the U.S., several companies have tested the formula of four working days per week. This is the case of Shake Shack, a fast food franchise that saw its results improve during the trial.

Impossible to compete

On the other hand, there's Basecamp, a software company that had to give up after a while. According to its managers, the four-day work week made it absolutely impossible to compete with other companies that worked five days.

Sweden: six-hour work days

Sweden also tested the four-day work week with a group of public employees, particularly, with nurses. Instead of eliminating one day as a working day, it opted for 6-hour working days.

Greater worker satisfaction and less sick leave in Sweden

The result: worker satisfaction was great, sick leave diminished (which is an important factor), but some costs increased as as well.

Happiness vs economy

Some experts say it's unrealistic to implement the four-day work week. As reported by the BBC, economist Robert Skidelsky calls the approach "inefficient."

Employee happiness is important

He points to the negative precedent of the 35-hour work week in France, to which business organizations have been strongly opposed. However, those who advocate work hour reduction claim that the happiness of employees is an important value to take into account.

More spending in free time

In addition, the four-day work week may have the economic benefit of boosting consumer spending on leisure and travel. To counter that argument, others pose the question: are current salaries high enough to cover the extra spending holiday per week?

Farewell to 20th-century work

In any case, the debate regarding this subject around the world is part of a larger effort to adapt work styles to the 21st century. Workers like the one in the image have become more and more scarce, and there are plenty of jobs nowadays that don't require physical presence or absolute dedication 24 hours a day.

Jack Ma favours a 12-hour workday, 6 days a week

Not everyone agrees on the point of shorter work weeks. Chinese tycoon Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, believes in long hours. "Working 12 hours a day and 6 days a week is a blessing."

 

Will the work week be changed soon?

With various advocates and opponents of shorter work weeks and longer weekends, it remains to be seen whether such a schedule will (sooner or later) become law.

A growing movement

Belgium, Spain, New Zealand, and certain Scandinavian countries and American companies have already started experimenting. Who will be next?

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