Here’s an interesting question: If you were given a choice of attending school for four or five days a week, which would you choose? Now, before you make that choice, it might be wise to stop and think about the positives and negatives of each option and ask clarifying questions first. One question you might ask is, does a four-day school week mean longer school days? Or will there be less, more, or the same amount of homework? Now hold that thought …
In 2019, we shared a story about technology company Microsoft. No, it wasn’t about their products, but a pilot program they were testing out with their employees! Microsoft’s Tokyo office decided to try a forward-thinking idea and gave employees every Friday off for the entire month of August. What do you think happened? While some might think that people were less productive, the opposite actually happened. Why? It turns out that when people get more rest and feel more rejuvenated after a break, they’re happier, more productive, and more efficient when they are at work. At least, that’s what happened with the employees of the Tokyo Microsoft office. Interesting, right?
Fast forward to 2021 and a country is now testing a pilot four-day work week. To incentivize companies to take part in the program, the idea is that the government would cover the costs that come with paying employees full five-day salaries when they’re only working for four days. In other words, there’s no cost to the company for letting their employees work one less day a week. The program that has been proposed would last three years and with each successive year, the government would cover less of the potential costs to the company. If this program succeeds, Spain will be the first country in Europe to offer a four-day work week.
As with most new proposals, there are those who are for and those who are against it. Those who are for the four-day work week argue that a better work-life balance will result in happier employees who will work harder when they’re at work. Those who are against the idea argue that this isn’t a good time to introduce such a program, since the country should work even harder to recover from the pandemic.
What do you think? Should countries move to a four-day work week? Why or why not?