Business strategy

Know Which Countries, Companies Are Testing This Idea; Know Results

The buzz around introducing a 4-day workweek is there globally, with many countries and companies testing it. After a few places have already introduced this shortened workweek system, California is also planning to roll out it and there’s even talk of bringing in law for that. Companies such as Cisco and Unilever Plc have already tested it.

However, when it comes to implementation at bigger level, a survey by Gartner, conducted in late April, showed that only 6 per cent of senior leaders said they are doing it or even planning that at their organisation. Instead, companies are more likely to be increasing paid time off or giving workers more flexibility on when they start and end work each day.

Cisco’s test began earlier this year with employees in its human-resources department, and includes two eight-week phases. One phase includes working 10-hour days, four days a week, and the second phase included getting every other Friday off. Cisco will then scour data and poll employees to see which approach worked better. Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s Chief People, Policy and Purpose officer, said employee participation in the test was about double what she expected, and she’s gotten inquiries from leaders in other departments about expanding it,” according to a Fortune report.

Countries such as Belgium, Iceland, Scotland and Wales, Sweden and Spain are experimenting with the new system and are offering employees the opportunity to work four days a week.

In Belgium, employees will be allowed to decide flexibly on whether to work four or five days a week. They will simply condense their weekly work hours into fewer days, if they want to.

Between 2015 and 2019, Iceland tested a similar model. About 2,500 people took part in the test phase. During the test, the government reduced the working week hours from 40 to 35 hours and maintained pay levels, according to an HT report. Now, about 86 per cent of employees now have the right to a four-day week.

Scotland is also testing the shortened workweek system, while the future generations commissioner in Wales is also urging the government to introduce the system. Sweden also tested the four-day working week with full pay in 2015. It got mixed results.

Spain has announced that it will experiment with a trial four-day workweek. The Spanish government agreed to a 32-hour workweek over three years, without cutting workers’ compensation.

Germany is home to one of the shortest average working weeks in Europe. According to the World Economic Forum, the average working week is 34.2 hours. Still, there is a demand for a shortened workweek. Many start-ups there are experimenting with the idea. However, in Japan, it is bigger companies that are venturing into this territory.

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