The pro’s and con’s of a four day work week



    The Gamibia in Africa has implemented a four-day working week for those in the public sector with employees having Friday off in exchange for working ten-hour days Monday through Thursday.

  • A similar experimental trial was conducted in Utah in 2008, but the five-day working week was re-instated in 2011.
  • From a well-being perspective this system may provide people with more time for leisure and to spend time with their families but may also mean they work much harder in the four working days (although the number of hours worked over the course of a week would not techincally change).
  • In another report, the New Economics Foundation suggested the indirect effects of the extra day off could include an increase in gardening resulting in at-home food production and follow-on benefits for wildlife such as habitat creation. From a business perspective this concept may be difficult to ‘sell’ as buildings could sit empty on Fridays while fixed costs are still being paid (e.g. rent). However, a four-day working week may also reduce commuter travel leading to environmental benefits.

Implications and next steps: A five day working week is ingrained in the majority of the western workforce, but a number of business are offering increasing flexible working hours to employees. Changing work practies may have the potential to foster positive economic and environmental impacts by reducing the cost of and emissions from travel to work, and by improving health and wellbing. However, these might need to be weighed against the impact of more energy use in the home on non-working days (especially during  the winter months).

BBC News:  Simms and Conisbee

About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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