Spain is in the process of trialing a new type of workweek: the four-day week. The experiment was put forth by the left-wing party Más País, and posits that just because someone works longer hours, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more productive. This is seen by some as evidence that there is no need for a mandatory 40-hour workweek when such a schedule does not necessarily increase productivity.
Some climate activists have even suggested that moving to a four-day workweek could be critical in combating climate change. “With the 4-day work week (32 hours) we are opening up the real debate of our time. That always arouses controversy, because it opens a gap,” wrote Iñigo Errejón of Más País on Twitter.
More companies are realizing that working long hours for the sake of “looking busy” isn’t giving them better results. Some workplaces have found quite the opposite: shoehorning workers of all types into a predetermined factory-style schedule is more likely to exhaust and frustrate them, thus making their work lower quality and less productive.
This is why so many companies have begun experimenting with shorter workdays, shorter workweeks, and a better focus on work-life balance. After all, a well-rested, happy employee is likely to be much better at their job than an overworked, miserable employee.
Another shift in the past year has been a move toward more people than ever before working from home. Some experts believe this could mark a turning point in the way companies think about employment. After all, with so many employees working from home and enjoying increased productivity, companies are sure to see the benefits of a lighter load on their workers.
Beyond giving everyone more time to do the things they enjoy, a three-day weekend as the norm would be great for the environment. Fewer people would be stuck in traffic, driving to work. Fewer office buildings would have their lights on throughout the weekend. Fewer printers would be firing off a new round of fliers for the office bulletin board.
What’s more, experts believe that data suggests people with longer weekends typically use that extra time to engage in activities that are of little ecological impact. Activities like visiting with family, cooking, exercising, and playing sports are often the preferred activities.
So will the whole world move to this style right away? Probably not. However, Spain’s experiment could encourage other countries or companies to try a shorter workweek.