Growing movement and petition circulating to demand a four-day work week
Two years ago, if I said we would all work remotely, you’d be laughing. Suffering for more than eight hours a day, five days a week in the office was the punitive standard, until Covid-19 struck. Then the unthinkable happened. Companies have sent their employees out of the office and told them to work remotely. What seemed like a crazy idea for CEOs has turned into a big hit. Once people got a taste of the freedom of not having to commute two hours a day and be chained to a cabin, they didn’t want to go back to the pre-pandemic past.
I recently spoke at length with Andrew Barnes, founder of New Zealand-based financial services firm Perpetual Guardian, and his partner, Charlotte Lockhart, about their mission to get companies to reduce the traditional workweek to only four days. Barnes had previously implemented a four-day work week at his company. The results were so positive that Barnes embarked on a campaign to get other companies to join him.
Barnes and Lockhart are at the forefront of the four-day workweek revolution. Forward-thinking leaders created the 4 Day Week Global Foundation to fund research on the future of work and well-being at work. The goal is to build a global coalition leading companies towards the adoption of a four-day work week.
The duo pointed out that last year shattered the myth that people had to go to the office every day. It is high time that we confront other work taboos as well. In addition to the four-day work week, the two leaders of the movement say companies can be creative and innovative. The future of post-pandemic work could also include four- or five-hour workdays, half-days, and staggered flexible schedules where people come and go according to their lifestyle needs, as well as role models. hybrid and distant.
Aziz Hasan, CEO of the crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter, is one of the first companies to engage in the pilot program. “Kickstarter is used to thinking thoughtfully about how we design our workplace. As we build a flexible future, we view the four-day workweek test as a continuation of that spirit and intention, ”Hasan said in a company statement.
A number of companies and countries have changed the four-day work week. Microsoft Japan has experimented with a shorter work week program called the “Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer”. The company has given its 2,300 employees the ability to “choose a variety of flexible work styles, depending on work and life circumstances.” Management’s goal was to see if there would be a corresponding increase in productivity and morale when hours are reduced. The results of the experiment were overwhelmingly positive, indicating that workers were both happier and 40% more productive.
Spain previously announced it would experience a four-day trial work week. The Spanish government has agreed to a 32-hour three-year work week without reducing workers’ compensation. the Washington post reported: “The pilot program aims to reduce risks for employers by asking the government to make up the difference in pay when workers move to a four-day schedule.
Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, advocated shortening people’s working time when she was campaigning. Marin put forward the idea that companies adopt a flexible six-hour day and / or a four-day work week at a roundtable before she becomes prime minister. She said: “I think people deserve to spend more time with their family, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture. It could be the next step for us in professional life.
Unilever, a British multinational consumer goods company headquartered in London, had already embarked on a four-day workweek test. The food and staples giant has chosen New Zealand as its testing location. This study is the natural progression of experimenting with different types of work and life arrangements in the company. Employees will be paid for five full days, although they only work four. Nick Bangs, Managing Director of Unilever New Zealand, said: “We hope the trial will make Unilever the first global company to adopt ways of working that deliver tangible benefits for people and the business.
The Global 4-Day Week team leads a multinational coalition of businessmen, academics, researchers and authors dedicated to making the flexible, productivity-driven work model a reality. The movement has already attracted a diverse group of supporters, including United for a Fair Economy, African-American ministers in action, climate activist Bill McKibben and economist Dean Baker.
In support of the campaign, here’s what supporters of the four-day week are saying about the movement:
How employees and workers can get involved
Sign the petition at www.4dayweek.com, share the petition with your network, or donate to support more businesses transitioning to a four-day work week.
How founders, employers and business leaders can get involved
Contact 4 Day Week Global to learn more about the implementation of the four day work week; sign and share the petition; commit to give it a try and upgrade to a four-day workweek or donate to support more businesses transitioning to a four-day workweek
Why a four-day work week is better for people
A reduced-hour workweek means more time with family and better mental and physical health. An extra day for “life” means we are more likely to rest, exercise, schedule doctor visits, enjoy the outdoors, have a family, play with our children, and to take care of our seniors, without sacrificing our salary or our career.
Executives who move their workplace to a shorter work week see these effects in real time: employees are more engaged, take less sick time, and experience less burnout. In a 2021 Harvard business review global survey, 89% of those polled said work life was getting worse, 85% reported lower levels of well-being and 62% said they had suffered burnout during the pandemic.
How it’s better for business
Thousands of companies are now experimenting with a reduced-hour workweek – or adopting it permanently – for the benefit of people, from auto workers and servers to engineers and lawyers. Employers report increased productivity, stronger attraction and retention of talent, and sometimes even lower overhead costs. A shorter work week also gives employees time to develop new skills that they can apply on the job.
The reasons why it’s better for society
A society with less time “on the clock” means more time in our communities. Studies show that people with four-day work weeks often spend their time volunteering with their faith-based organizations, contributing to food banks, helping neighbors, buying from small businesses, and getting involved. in local problems. Four-day workplaces are also more gender balanced. Babysitters, especially working mothers, enjoy reduced hours, and women with four-day work weeks find their workplaces more flexible and fair.
How it helps the environment
Shortening the work week can reduce commuting and reduce our global carbon footprint. Seventeen percent of Americans walk fewer miles on the average weekend than on weekdays. Introducing a third weekend day would reduce carbon emissions in the United States by 45 million metric tonnes, more than the total emissions of Oregon and Vermont combined. Parents also find that there is more time to prepare meals, which translates into healthier food choices and less waste.