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Four-day Workweek, What’s Good?

Japan on workweek (source: unspalsh)

The five-day workweek has been a cultural norm since the early 1900s. In 1890 the United States government estimated that the average employee worked for 100 hours a week, then in the mid-20th century, employees only worked 40 hours a week. By that, we’ve gradually reduced the number of hours worked, so is it possible if working hours are reduced to a four-day week?

Trials of a four-day week in Iceland were an “overwhelming success”, with around 85% of workers shifting to shorter hours without affecting their productivity, and in some cases improving it.  The trials, in which workers were paid the same amount for shorter hours, took place between 2015 and 2019.  The trials run by Reykjavik City Council and the national government included more than 2,500 workers in all fields such as social services, preschools offices, hospitals, and others moved their working time from a 40 hours week to a 35 or 36 hour week. According to the research from the UK think tank Autonomy and the Association for Democracy and Sustainability (Alda), workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies, and complete household chores.

Besides Iceland, Japan is pushing employers to cut down the working week to four days as part of a series of new economic guidelines. The Japanese government, in recent years, has been trying to modernize the country’s work habits to prioritize work-life balance by offering more remote working and flexible hours recommendations to the companies. The government hopes that the four-day working week could have a good impact on Japanese society, including boosting the economy and leading to increased marriage and birth rate.

Other countries, such as New Zealand, Germany, and Spain, have also tested out this policy. Could the same become true in Indonesia? 

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