The World's Largest 4-Day Workweek Experiment Is Underway — Here's What It Means For Everyone Else

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
June 21, 2024 at 10:19AM UTC

In June, Britain initiated the world’s largest trial of the four-day workweek to date. More than 3,300 workers across 70 companies will cut several hours from their schedules while earning 100% pay and committing to maximizing their productivity.

While this six-month trial, which came as the result of efforts by the 4 Day Week Global and 4 Day Week U.K. Campaign, is the most wide-reaching one to date, the concept of the four-day workweek is hardly a new phenomenon. Even before the pandemic, countries and individual organizations had begun experimenting with the idea of reducing the workweek but not the paycheck.

Famously, in Iceland, several trials were conducted between 2015 and 2019, in which workers across the country worked shorter weeks, to overwhelmingly positive results — improved well-being, reduced burnout and a better work-life balance, to name a few. 

Given the success of this series of trials, today, roughly 85% of workers in Iceland are able to work four days per week.

Around the world, countries are currently conducting or have plans to begin similar experiments, from Spain to New Zealand, Belgium to the United States and beyond. This is largely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, although calls for shorter workweeks began years ago.

In the U.S., Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) recently proposed a bill that would make the standard workweek 32 hours by law. In April, a North American trial involving 38 companies in the U.S. or Canada kicked off, making the four-day workweek a reality for the workers involved until at least October. A 2019 poll of 36,000 Americans, conducted by YouGov America, found that two-thirds of individuals want to work a four-day workweek, even if it would mean working more hours on those four days.

Britain’s trial will run for six months, with employees working 80% of the time for 100% pay.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

 

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