4 day working week: greater productivity and quality of life?

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4 day working week: greater productivity and quality of life?

April 11 / 2022

A priori it may sound like a utopia without a doubt for the vast majority of professionals. 4-day working week, a pilot project approved in Spain that, if successful, would mean a substantial change in the way of life of Spaniards. 

10 million euros are allocated in the 2022 budgets for this state pilot program that was agreed with Más País some time ago. Fewer working days a week without any kind of salary cut.

At Cloudworks we tell you about the objectives of the program, examples of pilot projects of companies carried out in Spain and the experiences of other countries in their implementation tests of the 4-day work week.

Objective of the pilot program

The idea is to carry out a thirty-two-hour work week without the workers suffering any type of reduction in their salary. The schedule and type of contract should also not be affected either.

The money contributed by the program reduces the risk of entrepreneurs. The salary gap due to the reduction of working days will be compensated by the government. In this way, companies will receive between two thousand and three thousand euros per worker adhering to the plan as a general aid for innovation. Money that can be used for new hires or equipment renewal, among other possibilities.

It is estimated that about two hundred companies and between three thousand and six thousand workers will participate in the program. 

Does the 4-day workweek reduce productivity?

Denmark, Norway or Germany are three of the most productive countries in the world. Their workweeks usually consist of about twenty-seven hours of work. 

The question many states ask themselves about implementing this system is whether the change will affect their productivity relative to those with longer working weeks.

The answer would be: it doesn’t have to. A good example is Spain. A country that is not among the most productive despite the fact that its workers work more hours than the European average. 

In many cases, digital technology makes it easier for employees to do the same work in less time. It only requires adaptation and intense use of the most productive hours offered by each worker.

4-day work week at Desigual and Telefónica

The companies Desigual and Telefónica have also developed their own pilot projects to reduce working hours for their employees. However, the measures adopted differ in part from the pilot program approved by the Government.

In both cases, the 4-day working week also entails a reduction in salary. This type of workweek can only be chosen by certain positions. Telefónica set a limit of 10% of its workforce to join this pilot program. A reversible option if employees decide to return to their old working week. 

In the case of Desigual, the reduction in working hours from 39.5 to 34.5 hours means 6.5% less salary. Time will tell whether or not these pilot programs improve the quality of life of participating employees.

4-day workweek, experience of similar models in other countries

Iceland

A small European country like Iceland has become the undisputed reference. Their 4-day workweek test conducted between 2015 and 2019 was a complete success. 

The workers who participated in it were paid the same salary despite reducing their working week. Productivity, on the other hand, remained stable and even improved in most cases. 

For the workers it meant a remarkable improvement, both in their work and personal lives. Stress problems at work were greatly reduced.

Sweden

The test was based on the establishment of a six-hour working day, with no wage reduction. The place chosen in 2015 for the experiment was a government-run nursing home. 

The test results were bittersweet. On the one hand, workers improved their quality of working life. On the other hand, by working fewer hours, it was necessary to hire new staff to cover the unstaffed hours. The increase in costs made the continuity of the project unfeasible.

United States

Tower Paddle Boards, a San Diego-based company has tried reducing the workday to five hours. Its CEO, Stephan Aarstol, was convinced that of the usual eight hours of work, only three or four are really productive. And that in the case of the best employees.

Through the five-hour work day they tried to efficiently manage human energy. Take advantage of the productive bursts of employees in shorter periods of time.

Although the project was initially a success, the employees ended up enjoying too much time off. According to Aarstol, the company was moving away from its start-up culture. In the end, his proposal was limited only to the summer months. 

Labour flexibility in the face of salary increases?

It is common for companies to offer salary increases to retain and attract talent. A good employee needs to feel valued. However, today, the offer of improved economic conditions is not the determining point in the worker’s decision.

The pandemic, the crisis generated and the war in Ukraine have given rise to inflation in which real wages have decreased. Companies that lack the financial resources to offer a higher salary choose instead to compete by offering a 4-day workday. 

Less money for more free time. Interesting question. The social network LinkedIn conducted a survey on the question: “Would you accept a pay cut in exchange for a four-day workweek?”

More than sixteen thousand users gave their opinion on the matter. 63% answered no; 28% said yes and 9% opted for it depends. Regardless of the working week that most interests you as professionals, in Cloudworks you will always have the right space to develop your work. Whether it is for days, weeks or months. Do not hesitate to contact us for any questions!