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The Hill: More Than Half of US Employers Ready To Try Four-Day Workweek

From The Hill: More than half of American employers offer a four-day workweek, or plan to, according to a survey released Tuesday. A poll of 976 business leaders by, the job-seekers website, found that 20 percent of employers already have a four-day workweek. Another 41 percent said they plan to implement a four-day week, at least on a trial basis. American employers have experimented with a four-day workweek over the decades, typically in times of recession. But the idea has gained traction in recent years. If a four-day week ever becomes standard, it would mark the biggest change to the national work schedule since the five-day workweek, adopted by automaker Henry Ford in 1926. We can’t say, however, that the four-day workweek would rank as the most profound change to the American workplace, not even in the last three years. That distinction probably goes to remote work, a movement that exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and shows no signs of abating. Proponents of the four-day week contend that companies can trim a full day from the week without a loss of productivity. A trial of the four-day workweek in Iceland in the 2010s yielded “phenomenal results, like less stress, lower work-family conflicts, more energy levels,” said Juliet Schor, a Boston College researcher, in a well-circulated TED podcast. “Productivity stays the same or gets better. Doesn’t cost anything.” Another trial of the four-day week, last year in the United Kingdom, found increased job satisfaction and work-life balance, superior products, better customer service and reduced stress, sick days and absences, by one account. History suggests, though, that it may not be so simple to compress five days’ work into four. Volkswagen adopted a four-day workweek in 1993, with shorter hours and less pay, amid a downturn in the auto industry. For many workers, the four-day week didn’t feel much shorter. “They started to take work home with them,” said Iwan Barankay, an associate professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “They were still under pressure to get work done, and they were doing it on their own time.” With as much as half of America’s white-collar work now happening at home, Barankay believes a four-day week might increase pressure on workers to toil on their own time. “People still, in the end, will be evaluated for performance,” he said. “And if they feel they can’t get the work done in four days, some of it will bleed into Fridays.” Read more at The Hill.

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