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Volume 24 Issue 3
COMPLIMENTARY

Jun 2022 | Business | 0 comments

38 companies in the USA are testing four-day work week

Business | 0 comments

June 2022

NATION – After success stories from Iceland and news about the large-scale field trial in Great Britain, a pilot project on the 4-day week is now starting in the USA., with 38 companies currently testing the 4-day work week, while results are being scientifically analyzed.
Last year, some companies already tested the effects of shorter working hours and have ended up switching permanently to a 4-day week. They are on the rise in countries all around the world -the 4-day week and the 32-hour week. Some companies are testing shorter working hours to make

themselves more attractive employers, while others are already introducing them permanently. In countries like Iceland or Great Britain, there have been and still are large-scale field trials with thousands of participants. The aim is to investigate how working time reductions can be implemented and what the consequences are for employees, productivity and the working atmosphere.
The field trial in Iceland, which started in 2015, was so successful that 86% of Icelandic employees have now been given a reduction in working hours – or the

opportunity to do so. The UK is now following and copying the Iceland trial on a larger scale, starting in June 2022. On the other hand, in Belgium, the government has decided on the possibility of a 4-day week – albeit on the basis of condensed working hours. Here, the focus is laid on flexibility instead of an actual reduction of working hours.
Companies in the U.S. are also testing the 4-day week. Large companies have sporadically experimented with working hours in 2021, including Kickstarter, Bolt (a payment service provider),

Unilever and others. Working shorter hours allows more time for family, friends and recreation. Studies on the 4-day week show the advantages.
The non-profit organization “4 Day Week Global” launched a six-month pilot program for the 4-day week in the US in April 2022, with several companies now participating. The pilot program will end in September and then be evaluated. How does the pilot program for the 4-day week work in the U.S.A. & Canada?
Companies participating in the trials in both countries will be matched with a sponsor company that has already successfully switched to the 4-day week. This should facilitate the internal reorganization of the company. At the same time, scientists from Boston College are analyzing the effects of the reduction in working hours. The pilot program aims at showing that people can work 80% of the standard weekly working hours and still achieve their work goals – and therefore should also earn 100% of their salary.

Juliet Schor, an economist and sociologist at Boston College, has been conducting studies on the 4-day week for years. She said, “What we find with all the individual company cases that we’ve seen is that giving people a 4-day work week dramatically reduces their stress levels, their burnout; it improves their work-life balance and improves their overall health and wellbeing,” she said. “There are fewer sick days taken. There’s less absenteeism and personal days.”
Data on the 4-day week is promising so far. Buffer, a social media company in Silicon Valley, tried the 4-day week during the Corona pandemic and found that 91% of employees were happier. A total of 84% said they managed to complete the work they needed to do in 32 hours. They also reported being less stressed and happier, and felt they could manage their lives more independently.
Financial services’ company, Bolt, launched a trial of its own in autumn 2021. Founder Ryan Breslow commented: “I believe a 4-day work week isn’t an ‘if’ for most companies. It’s a ‘when.’”
Following a three-month trial period, Bolt has made the reduction in working hours permanent. According to company management, the results speak for themselves:

86% of employees said they were more efficient while at work.

84% said their work-life balance had improved

84% reported they were more productive than before.

80% said they have eliminated unnecessary work steps and deadlines – improving the whole work process.

How the 40-hour workweek began. In 1926, Henry Ford found that working more than 40 hours per week resulted in small productivity increases from his staff, but that increase did not last. Realizing it wasn’t in his company’s best interest to have workers on the job for more than 40 hours, Ford adopted and popularized a standard 40-hour workweek.

Then, in 1932, Senator Hugo Black drafted the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which included a 30-hour workweek. That version of the act did not pass. However, in 1938, a revised version with the beginnings of the 40-hour week was passed. The FLSA does not define what full or part-time employment is, explicitly stating, “This is a matter generally to be determined by the employer.” What the FLSA does say is that nonexempt employees working over 40 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay, which is likely why most employers stick with a 40-hour workweek.

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