The Impact of Working a 4-Day Week - Deepstash

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The four-day workweek has potential benefits

The four-day workweek has potential benefits

The four-day workweek is a 32-hour workweek with no loss in productivity, pay, or benefits. 

Studies show that productivity decreases as the hours worked increase. Making 32 hours the norm instead of 40 can lead to improved well-being without losing work productivity. 

Many companies worldwide have adopted a four-day workweek. Japan's government has recommended a four-day week as a national policy. 

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The origins of working less

The origins of working less

Ford Motor Co. and the industrial revolution made it possible to work five days instead of six. It began as an experiment at some plants in July 1926 and became company policy two months later.

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Ac (FLSA) mandated a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour, a 44-hour workweek, and overtime pay of 1.5 times a worker's regular pay. In 1939, the act provided for a 42-hour workweek and in 1940 a 40-hour workweek.

Since the 1990s, experiments with a four-day workweek took place in the US. More job openings offered a four-day workweek in 2018 and 2019 than in 2017.

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How many hours we are really working

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that the average annual hours worked by employed people in 2020 were

  • 25.6 per week in Germany
  • 34 per week for Americans
  • 32 per week for Canadians
  • 26 per week in the UK
  • 30 hours per week for Spaniards and
  • 31 hours per week for the Japanese.

These numbers show that the average American already work equivalent to a four-day workweek. However, US data includes high-school and college-age workers who work less than 40 hours per week.

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Goal of a four-day  workweek

Goal of a four-day workweek

Workers' quality of life can improve with a four-day workweek. People will have more time for

  • Quality time with family, friends, and pets
  • Caregiving
  • Healthcare appointments
  • Personal development
  • Education
  • Travel
  • Hobbies
  • Home maintenance
  • Household management

For employers, benefits of a four-day workweek include:

  • Increased sales
  • Reduced employee burnout and improved employee retention
  • Larger applicant pool for open positions

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4-Day workweek challenges

  • Some organisations use a four-day week to save costs by not maintaining pay and benefits.
  • A 32-hour work week may lead to a lack of work ethic.
  • A four-day week of 10-hour days can be incompatible with wage regulations or be too much for employees.
  • It may not be possible to increase productivity enough in service or logistics jobs to achieve the same results in fewer hours. There's a limit to how many delivery locations a UPS driver can make in a day.

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Recent developments to the 4-day week

  • Iceland ran a pilot four-day workweek program from 2015 to 2019. The results published in 2021 showed that workers were less burnt out while having more time for family.
  • Several trials are done on the four-day workweek in Spain.
  • Unilever in New Zealand ran a year-long four-day workweek program that ended in 2021.
  • The UK is launching a four-day workweek trial from June to December 2022.
  • US-based Kickstarter will also do a four-day workweek trial in 2022.
  • The social media software company Buffer implemented a four-day workweek in 2020.

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Strategies to succeed with a 4-day workweek

Strategies to succeed with a 4-day workweek

  • Prioritize and reevaluate tasks
  • Minimize interruptions and distractions
  • Increase automation
  • Focus on human creativity
  • Reduce work-based social events
  • Reduce and shorten meetings
  • Spend less time on email and messaging apps
  • Define clear goals that are achievable within a shorter workweek
  • Measure outcomes, not hours
  • Implement asynchronous work
  • Maintain employee pay
  • Trust workers
  • Request regular employee feedback
  • Learn from experimentation and mistakes

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