Less work, the same amount of pay. It sounds like the dream, doesn't it? Well, it's a dream that's likely coming to a few lucky people as countries and companies around the world experiment with a reduced work week.
The idea behind this experiment is that with less time to get things done, employees will be more resourceful with the time they have.
For the whole month of August, employees at Microsoft's Japan office were given every Friday off. At the end of the month, the company reported a 40% increase in productivity. Considering the employees are working 20% less, this was an incredible result. On top of this, the company also reported 59% fewer pages printed and 23% less electricity used.
Managers reported that one tactic they used to make better use of time was to limit meetings to 30 minutes or less (we can all agree that this should be the norm whether we work less or not).
The success of this trial had led other companies to begin looking at their own working arrangements.
“We should work to live, not live to work,” said Britain's shadow chancellor John McDonnell, noting that the British Labour Party would reduce the standard working week to 32 hours, without loss of pay if they won office in the upcoming election. This followed a report that noted:
People should have to work less for a living. Having to work less at what one needs to do, and more at what one wants to do, is good for material and spiritual well-being. Reducing working time - the time one has to work to keep ‘body and soul alive’ - is thus a valuable ethical objective.
The question is whether this reduction in work will ever catch on in the work obsessed US. When Utah moved towards a four-day 10-hour workweek for state workers, residents complained about not having access to services on Friday.
What do you think? Would you enjoy a 32-hour work week with the same pay? What about with reduced pay? Would you prefer to do four 10-hour days?