NWork only four days a week but get paid for five days? About 70 companies with 3,300 employees are now trying this out in Great Britain. It is said to be the largest pioneering project in the world. Organized by the 4 Day Week Global Group, it campaigns to reduce working hours to 32 hours per week.
It is mainly small companies that participate. Businesses are different. The list includes Norfolk Coastal Fish and Chip Shop, Sheffield-based software company Rivelin Robotics, legacy tax consultant Stellar Asset Management and Kent-based alternative finance company Charity Bank. A few months ago, online banking game and software company WANdisco launched similar tests on a four-day week. His hope is that employees will be happier, more motivated and more productive. “100-80-100” is the magic formula promised by the organizers: 100 percent productivity with 80 percent work time and 100 percent pay.
Juliet Shore, a sociologist at Boston College, is involved in educating others with the pilot project and evaluating the results, calling it a “historic endeavor”. He explores how employees react to an extra day off. In particular, they expect lower stress and fatigue, higher job satisfaction, lower employee income and fewer layoffs and higher overall productivity. He is optimistic that the four-day week will provide “three dividends”, ie employees, companies and climate.
Since companies participate voluntarily, they have a good idea that the test will work for them. However, Schor FAZ told Joe Ovied that “the government must take action to bring in companies that do not see the benefits or have little benefit, in order to expand the four-day week across the economy.” According to Connor of 4 Day Weekly Global Group, more and more companies are now finding that they need to offer new products to keep their employees competitive as the epidemic spreads. Short working hours are a competitive advantage.
Differences in production and services
One of the participating companies is the small Kraft Beer Brewery Pressure Drop Brewery in Tottenham, north London. “Everyone around the world needs to change their way of life and work,” says founder Sam Smith. However, the liquor manufacturer agrees that for a company that manufactures body products like itself, the challenges of a four-day week with full pay compensation outweigh the service providers who can organize their work more flexibly.
The New Zealand-based group 4 Day Week Global writes that their research shows that this is possible. In previous pilot projects, nearly two-thirds of companies saw benefits in hiring new employees four days a week. Also, surprisingly, most participants said they were happier and less stressed.
The campaign team says similar tests are being prepared in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, on par with the current UK pilot. There were also individual trials in Sweden and Finland. Several years ago, the Icelandic capital Reykjavik sought to drastically reduce the working hours of local government employees. In Spain, the left-wing split party “Más País” recommended the introduction of a four-day week across the country.
Germany did not go along
There are currently no major tests in Germany. The Union of Education and Science (GEW) recently issued a call for the introduction of a “32-hour week with full pay compensation for all” entitled “Feminist Time Policy”. IG Metal also came up with the idea. Marcel Fratzer, president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), said two years ago it was conceivable to reduce working hours to four days a week – but not full pay compensation. For companies, this means a significant increase in hourly wages and rising costs that many cannot afford.
Considering the shortage of staff in many companies, the idea of drastically reducing working hours across the board is somewhat outdated. Recent statements by the head of the German Economic Association (IW) regarding the employer tend to go in the opposite direction: he called for a 42-hour week increase – and the associated pay rise.
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