Can the UK function on a four-day week?
The four-day week has been considered for some time, but has had a recent upsurge thanks to the Labour party adopting it as policy in time for the upcoming election on December 12th2019.
You can see the two peaks in Google Trends – one from the announcement in September at the party conference, and the next fuelled by Labour’s election publicity and the Conservative responses to it as a policy.
According to the BBC report, the Labour interpretation of this idea is to “reduce the average full-time working week to 32 hours within the next decade.”
This would not include a national cap, as is done in France, but instead would take the needs of different industries into account.
The aim of the four-day week is generally two-fold, to increase workers’ morale and loyalty, and also increasing their productivity. According to several surveys, British workers produce up to 16% less on average than their counterparts in the other leading economies.
Most recently, the Japanese branch of Microsoft trialed the idea, and found that it resulted in nearly a 40% rise in productivity.
“The number of pages printed decreased by 58.7%, while electricity consumption was down by 23.1% compared with August 2018.”https://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-4-day-work-week-boosts-productivity-2019-11?r=US&IR=T
The five-day, 37.5 – 40 hour working week might feel like a natural, obvious part of life for most industries, but it was only widely introduced in the twentieth century, and was a reduction from a Victorian standard of six days in a working week, with between 10 to 16 hours in a day!
Is it time for another reduction? Or is it doomed to failure?
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