What if tomorrow we all worked one day less per week to address pandemic fatigue, climate change, burn out and depression ? What if tomorrow we were working less but making as much money ?
This might seem crazy, and then evidence keeps on piling to show that this is the future of work. A study of over 30 companies totalling 960 workers in Ireland and the US has recently published its findings :
Many articles on Yahoo Finance or CNN provide more details. This is just the latest evidence. Previously, all companies and places that have tried it report many benefits : less sick leave to be paid, less burnouts, quiet quitting and resignations, more focused workers, better client satisfaction… Even Forbes and the New York Times are supportive.
Four-day work-weeks already have been tried and then implemented in many countries, including the US and Canada, Ireland, Belgium, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Iceland, Spain, Japan… In France where many of us already work 35-hours a week, this could easily be implemented.
We already have enough wealth for everyone if it was better redistributed. If productivity has exploded since the middle of the 20th century, workers are still working more or less the same amount of hours. This is time to address this and redistribute wealth. Decreasing working time is one of the ways to do so.
A four-day work week would address the climate crisis in many ways as people would be commutting one day less, thus favoring less carbon intensive means to do so. With more time in their hands, their carbon footprint would decrease. More time would be spent with children and communities, thus making our societies healthier and happier.
Working less would bring a much needed reflection on our societies and would signal a sustainable shift towards quality not quantity, Human Development Index over Gross Domestic Product and so on. With time, it could pave the way for a Universal Basic Income.
One word of caution though : a four-day work week might not be doable everywhere and for everyone all the time. Unless more folks are hired to cover for the new absences. Again, this has the potential to change everything, including how workers are treated in certain industries, including healthcare, education, catering…
According to Juliet Schor, an economist and sociology professor who has studied this topic for years, switching to a 4-day work week addresses systemic racism and sexism but I am not sure as to how ? In any case, here is her TED Talk from earlier this year :
“One day for our families and communities.
One day for the chores that need to be done.
One day for ourselves.”
I hope France, the European Union and the entire world soon embraces this.
Image credits : the 4 Day Week Campaign on Twitter.