What she said.
If you've been working a full-time, 40 hours a week gig currently, welcome to the club. We've been in 40-hour work week for basically our entire lives. Going to school turns into going to work, either way we usually only get 2 day break from the continuous cycle. Even in a global crisis, most companies expected their employees to complete 40+ hours of work in a week.
A 40 hour work week may be totally fine for some, but it can be absolutely draining for others. The stress can add up, not having a long enough break can take its toll. Both the physical and mental health of employees can take a huge hit in this cycle. In Japan, there are companies that maintain 60 hour work weeks. This has lead to an increase in heart issues as well as suicides throughout the country. Despite the many cons of intense work weeks, we get through them because we have to pay the bills.
A 32 hour work week could only be real in a dream, right?
Earlier this year, the Spanish government accepted a small group's proposal to trial a 32 hour work week. The small Spanish party Más País announced that since the government accepted their proposal, talks have been held and meetings are already on the agenda to get the ball rolling for this trial.
“With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” Iñigo Errejón of Más País said on Twitter. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”
The idea of a four day work week has been steadily gaining around globally from New Zealand to Germany. The cut to 32 hours is a means to increase productivity, improve the mental health of workers and fight climate change. The proposal has taken on new significance (and priority) as the global pandemic draws more attention to overall wellbeing, burnout and work-life balance.
Spain was one of the first countries in western Europe to adopt the 8 hour work day. While the exact details of the trial period are still being hashed out with the government, the small party has proposed a three-year, €50m project that would allow companies to have reduced hours with minimal risk. The costs of a company’s foray into the four-day work week, for example, could be covered at 100% the first year, 50% the second year and 33% the third year.
“With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers,” said Héctor Tejero of Más País. “The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs.”
With Spain inching closer to the trial, its progress is being closely tracked in the UK and around the world. “My understanding is that this would be the first-ever national level pilot of the four-day week,” said Joe Ryle of the 4 Day Week Campaign. “We’re calling on governments across the world to follow the Spanish example in paving the way for the four-day work week.”
He described a reduction in working hours as long overdue. “Clearly the way that we work is making people stressed, burned out, overworked and causing massive workplace and mental health issues,” he said. “The four-day week would be good for the economy, good for workers and good for the environment. What’s not to like about it?”
Really though, what's not to like about it?! Hopefully this trial goes well and countries all over the world, including Japan and America, are able to adapt to a four day work week and ultimately much happier lifestyles.