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Should we be moving to a shorter working week?

  • by JW

Would the increased leisure-time be good for the tourist industry, if people had more flexibility in their working lives?


The pandemic has forced a rethink in how we work:

A commitment to “encourage flexible working” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

A hybrid approach to working – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Including a rethink of the five-day week:

Moving towards a shorter working week – Vision Group for Sidmouth

A piece on the BBC WorkLife pages a couple of months ago looked at where we are now:

The case for a shorter workweek

More than ever, workers want to work fewer hours, saying they can be just as effective in less time – and happier, too. They may be on to something.
We’re living in an age of radical transformation in the workplace. Options like all-remote or hybrid – which were completely unthinkable for most people just two years ago – are now becoming part of work mainstream. The idea of shrinking the workweek is also gaining traction, particularly in light of recent examples of workforces who have successfully trialed a reduced-hours’ week.
A shorter workweek could take various forms. There’s the four-day week, where you reduce your working hours by 20%. There are different models; everyone at a company might take the same day off, or people chose the structure that works for them, like taking two afternoons off. Or you might just reduce the workweek by a certain number of hours, from 40 down to 36, for example. A commonality across all models is that you’re not cramming your previous work span into a shorter timeframe, like working 40 hours in four days; you are removing a portion of your total work time for the week. Most importantly, salaries remain the same.
Experts and workers alike are debating the idea, because the pandemic has forced us to take a long, hard look at the modern workplace, and associated themes like work-life balance, mental health and worker flexibility. Proponents argue that a reduced-hours working model can help address many current work negatives, making employees more productive, healthier and happier.
So, should companies really pay people the same salaries to work fewer hours? What’s in it for them, and what exactly is the argument for the shorter workweek?

The case for a shorter workweek – BBC Worklife

The idea is becoming more mainstream:

Opinion: Should the U.S. Adopt a 4-Day Workweek? | US News Opinion

Tourism And The Four Day Work Week: A Win-Win, Post Covid-19 |

Interest And Excitement About The Adoption Of A Four-Day Workweek Is Picking Up Speed |

With the world of high-finance taking an interest – as this piece from this week shows:

The Impact of Working a 4-Day Week

If the same results can be achieved in fewer days, why keep a 5-day workweek?There’s been a lot of talk about the potential benefits of working a four-day week instead of a five-day week. Making 32 hours the norm instead of 40 can lead to improved well-being for workers without a loss of productivity for businesses. A number of studies have shown that at some point, productivity decreases as the number of hours worked increases. Forty-hour workweeks may be wearing people out needlessly.
A number of companies worldwide have pulled it off for a year or more, and Japan’s government has recommended it as national policy.1 While it’s not a new idea, it seems to have come under greater consideration since the COVID-19 pandemic generated a broad reevaluation of the way we work, including a great work-from-home migration and hybrid office implementation.


– The idea behind a four-day workweek is to achieve the same results in fewer hours so people have more time to pursue other interests, spend time with loved ones, and manage their lives.

Companies could benefit through increased sales, decreased worker burnout, and lower turnover, among other positives.

Emphasizing results instead of hours logged means there’s no need to cut pay or benefits.

A major shift in how we think about and approach work is a precursor to standardizing a four-day workweek.

The Impact of Working a 4-Day Week | investopedia

As far as the tourist industry goes, it could really help – according to the latest issue of the business magazine Forbes:

Tourism And The Four Day Work Week: A Win-Win, Post Covid-19

For the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, this can only mean good things for the tourist economy. As reported in The Guardian, Ardern said many more New Zealanders had said they would travel more domestically if they had more flexibility in their working lives. 

Tourism And The Four Day Work Week: A Win-Win, Post Covid-19

Meanwhile, the New Economics Foundation has been campaigning on this for some time now:


Reducing the time we spend at work to provide more time for life.There is no natural law determining the amount of time we spend in work. History shows us that when people come together they can reduce the working week in order to provide more time for life – indeed that was how the weekend and the eight-hour day was won.
Today, arguments around reducing working time have come roaring back. Automation has injected the debate with a new urgency. Winning shorter working hours without a loss in pay offers a way to tackle symptoms of overwork, providing people with more time to recuperate, participate in democratic process and fulfil caring responsibilities.
We are pleased to be part of an alliance building a new consensus that more free time is an ambition to bake into the rules of the economy – working with trade unions, researchers and campaigners in the UK and across Europe.

Demand a 4 Day Week – YouTube

A shorter working week | New Economics Foundation

Shorter working week newsletter 9 | New Economics Foundation