In the past decade, the idea of hustle culture has become more and more mainstream. The idea that your career is your life and everything else, including your family, hobbies, and self-care, should take a backseat is highly toxic. Yet very few people recognize the dangers of this culture. Young adults and teenagers frequently measure their self-worth in terms of their productivity. Things like indulging in a hobby and taking some time off from work have become the equivalent of wasting time.
The pandemic has made the world reach many conclusions, including that lesser working hours could result in increased productivity. If you work full-time, you must know the meaning of your two off-days. While Saturday passes in, catching up with the chores, Sunday is spent dreading the realization that you have to work tomorrow.
The effort to change to a four-day workweek gained traction in the 1970s but swiftly died out. However, this movement is now getting the attention it deserves, and a few countries have begun to experiment with it. The UAE became the first country to adopt the four-day workweek when it announced that all government entities would operate for four-and-a-half days per week. This is a significant step forward for this idea, as before, only trials were carried out to evaluate its feasibility.
Countries Which Have Experimented with Four-Day Work Week
One of the most successful trials was conducted by Iceland between 2015-19. They were described as an “overwhelming success.” These trials were focused on reducing the working hours from 40 to 35-36. According to the research, while all workers’ income stayed the same, their productivity improved or remained the same. The experiment was done on 2500 workers, more than 1% of the workforce, from different professions and workforce.
Countries like New Zealand, Spain, Japan, Ireland, and Scotland are also experimenting with this change following the precedent set by Iceland. Belgium became the latest country to adopt this change. It has granted the employees the right to disconnect and ignore messages related to work outside of their working hours. The workers will have the option to choose between working more hours in four days or working the same hours in five days.
India is also considering adopting this schedule from the fiscal year 2022-23. However, while willing to reduce the number of working days, it is unwilling to reduce the number of working hours. Working hours will be the same as before, i.e., 48 hours a week.
Companies Which Have Embraced the Four-Day Work Week Idea
In India, as the nation was battling the second wave of Covid-19 in May 2021, companies, including DDB Mudra Group, Neil Patel Digital India, Swiggy, and Expedia, implemented a four-day workweek policy to protect their employees’ mental well-being. TAC Security, a cybersecurity company, also shifted to a 4-day workweek to improve productivity.
In Germany, small start-ups implemented this schedule. In Japan, where people have died because of overworking, Microsoft introduced this concept in 2019. This increased productivity by 40%. Unilever New Zealand also experimented with this model by offering full pay for a four-day week.
Atlassian, The Financial Diet, Treehouse, Wildbit, Buffer, and TGW Studio are amongst some of the companies that have promoted and adapted this model. Some of these companies have even made the four-day week permanent.
Impact Of Four-Day Work Week on Environment
During Microsoft Japan’s trial period, electricity usage fell by 23%, and paper printing was reduced by 59%.
A report by the 4 Day Week campaign and Platform London showed that if the four-day workweek is implemented in the UK by 2025, emissions could fall by 127 million metric tons. One less working day means reduced electricity consumption, less commuting (as per the report commuting would fall by 558 million miles per week), and an overall lower carbon footprint.
Another study published in 2012 by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, mentioned this fact, “Countries with shorter work hours tend to have lower ecological footprints, carbon footprints, and carbon dioxide emissions”.
The majority of today’s social issues are intertwined. Prejudice against the LGBTQ community, for example, cannot be effectively resolved unless racism is addressed. Similarly, climate justice cannot be achieved without ensuring work-life balance, eliminating racism, and addressing other issues afflicting our society.