Time For A Shortened Work Week?

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Since the CV19 pandemic has resulted in many people working from home over the last few months, experts are wondering what changes may be in store for the traditional 5-day, 40 hour work week.  One of the ideas getting a lot of buzz right now is a compressed, 4-day, 32 hour work week.

I recently saw an article that details efforts in progressive Singapore to make the shorter work week a national law to improve work-home balance.  Amazon is testing a 4-day work week among a number of it’s teams.  And, a German company cut their hours by reducing meetings to 15 minutes and discouraging employees from using their phones, using social media, and engaging in office small talk.

These efforts make it seem as if changes are in the air, but are they really?  

It’s not a new idea, back in the 1930s economist John Maynard Keynes proposed the 15-hour work week would be the result of technological change and productivity improvements.  France shortened work weeks to 35 hours back in 1998 and they still operate that way.  billionaires Richard Branson & Carlos Slim have been calling for a shorter work week for years.  Still, the traditional, 5-day, 40 hour week seems quite fixed into the culture of work.

I recall hearing a lot of efforts to reduce hours spent at work and improve life-work balance over the last 30 years.  I was always hopeful to read about them and imagined that ‘someday’ they would become widespread and eventually I would benefit.  It seemed like an opportunity to build a little FIRE into one’s daily living.  That said, I saw very few of these programs actually materialize over the years.  Even summer hours was only sporadically supported at MegaCorp at the time I retired four years ago.

While the idea of a reduced work week sounds good and our standard of living is very high, national & corporate leaders still seem reluctant to implement change.  The country of France went to shortened work weeks (35 hours) back in 1998 and even today politicians argue whether that is a good idea or not.  Billionaires Richard Branson and Carlos Slim have called for less hours for years, yet the programs aren’t broadly adopted across their own companies.

What will it take for a shortened work week to take hold? 

Would you take an 80% salary to switch to a 4-day work week? 

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Time For A Shortened Work Week?

  1. I would love to work 4 days a week for 80% pay. Hell even 3 days a week for 60% pay would be good. In Australia our weekly work hours are 38 hrs/wk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – I would have been happy to work less, for less money. Heck, I might even still be working now if I could have done it my whole career.


  2. I’m sure many employers will start thinking about alternatives. I know my office has seen a spike in attendance with everyone working from home. Less call-outs = more productivity?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – After 3 months of flexible work arrangements for office workers, it will be hard for folks to ‘go back’ to the old way.


  3. I am currently working 4 days a week due to CV-19, and would gladly continue at 80% salary to maintain health coverage. At the onset of the situation I volunteered to work both 80% and 50% schedules if the company wanted to make it work. I would rather do so at 4 or 6 hours a day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great. If everyone did what you are doing, that would probably ‘save’ quite a few extra jobs right now. Most businesses are now opened or reopened, but it might again be a situation if the virus comes hard in another wave.


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