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Burnout, Stress Lead More Companies to Try a Four-Day Work Week

Linked by Paul Ciano on January 29, 2019

Emma Thomasson, Reuters:

Work four days a week, but get paid for five?

It sounds too good to be true, but companies around the world that have cut their work week have found that it leads to higher productivity, more motivated staff and less burnout.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) is pushing for the whole country to move to a four-day week by the end of the century, a drive supported by the opposition Labour party.

The TUC argues that a shorter week is a way for workers to share in the wealth generated by new technologies like machine learning and robotics, just as they won the right to the weekend off during the industrial revolution.

“It would reduce the stress of juggling working and family life and could improve gender equality. Companies that have already tried it say it’s better for productivity and staff wellbeing,” said TUC economic head Kate Bell.

A recent survey of 3,000 employees in eight countries including the United States, Britain and Germany found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their tasks in five hours a day if they did not have interruptions, but many are exceeding 40 hours a week anyway - with the United States leading the way, where 49 percent said they worked overtime.

“There has been work creep. Because you always have the technology, you are always working, so people are getting burned out,” said Dan Schawbel, director of executive development firm Future Workplace, which conducted the survey with Kronos.

Schulz-Hofen and his team discussed various options before settling on everybody working Monday to Thursday. They rejected the idea of flexible hours because it adds administrative complexity, and were against a five-day week with shorter hours as it is too easy for overwork to creep back in.

“We got an unexpected reaction from customers. Most of our clients did not complain. They were just jealous,” Schulz-Hofen said.

Paul Ciano

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