Germany is starting a six-month trial of a four-day work week from February 1 which could prove to be revolutionary if successful. If you ask us at any given point if a three-day weekend would be better than a two-day one, the answer would already be a resounding “YES!”. We’d have more time to catch up on sleep, spend time with loved ones, travel, and binge-watch all the series that are piling on our watchlists. But can it truly be our reality?
Germany’s experiment, led by 4-Day Week Global, a non-profit based in New Zealand, aims to find out if having a four-day workweek would make employees healthier, happier, and more productive as suggested by labour unions (and our wishful thinking).
The country has been struggling with a lagging economy, lack of skilled workers, and high inflation, per reports. The experiment could increase employee productivity, boost morale, and draw part-time workers into more regular employment. This could in turn help reduce the companies and the country’s economic losses.
While the experiment is being met with enthusiasm for most part, there are some strong critics of it as well. Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner expressed concers about potential negative impacts on the country’s economic growth.
Has a 4-day work week been successful in the past?
The experiment has shown promising results in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and Portugal. In 2022, Belgium became the first country in the EU to make a four-day work week optional. According to the policy, the total working hours in a week would be the same as a five-day work week.
In Japan, companies are encouraged to have a four-day work week so that employees can spend time with family, have kids, and spend money. This goes a long way in boosting the economy and the country’s ageing population.
Can a 4-day work week be successful in India?
The four-day work week might sound ideal for our work-life balance woes but it could be far from practical. First and foremost, the success of the experiment would require an industry-wide adoption and a complete overhaul of our societal protocols. Since it would only decrease the days we work in a week and not the hours, it could increase the pressure on employees on working days.
A four-day work week would also be impossible to achieve in industries like media, travel and hospitality, manufacturing or service sector. Many industries in the country have tried to adopt the four-day work week policy but haven’t had promising results, instead practices like introducing a hybrid format, flexible hours, and shift-based models have proven to improve levels of efficiency.
What do you think of the experiment?