Those of us looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend — and subsequent four-day workweek that follows Labor Day — might appreciate this bit of news from across the pond. Scotland’s government has confirmed that it will follow through on a pledge to help companies try out a four-day workweek on a trial basis.
The trial will give government workers a four-day workweek and reduce hours by 20%, but with no loss of pay. It’s part of a promise the ruling Scottish National Party made while campaigning for re-election earlier this year. The SNP said it would create a £10 million fund ($13.8 million U.S.) to assist companies that want to try out a four-day workweek for employees without worrying about the effect on their finances.
The Herald reports that the government offices won’t be the first in Scotland to test out a four-day workweek amid the pandemic. Packaging company UPAC Group, based in Glasgow, recently confirmed to the news outlet that it is shifting to four-day weeks (with the same pay for employees) after a successful trial, and Orocco, a building contractor in Edinburgh, had also moved to a four-day workweek.
Supporters of a four-day workweek say it boosts productivity and workers’ well-being. A recent poll in Scotland found that 80% of respondents said they thought working one less day with no loss of wages would positively impact their health and happiness. That’s no surprise, but research bears out the evidence for the rest of the argument, about improving worker productivity: When Iceland implemented successful four-day workweek trials from 2015-2019, researchers who tracked the trials found that productivity held steady or improved in most workplaces, while workers reported less stress and burnout.
The push for a four-day workweek is part of a larger movement that has stretched from New Zealand to Europe. Officials in Spain announced earlier this year that they’d embark on a large-scale experiment in four-day workweeks this fall.
“The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs,” Héctor Tejero of Más País, the party that proposed the pilot program, told The Guardian.
With the pandemic upending many people’s traditional work lives, the idea of four-day workweek is part of a larger conversation about how we work. Desperate employers are offering bonuses and new benefits to attract employees during a worker shortage, but could a four-day workweek become part of the benefits package?
What do you think about working four days a week instead of five?