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Is the Four Day Workweek Actually Catching On?

The four day workweek just got another major endorsement as more companies try it on for a size.

Is the four-day workweek the future for workers and, in particular, working parents? Kickstarter apparently thinks so, after announcing the company would experiment into moving to a shorter workweek for their employees.

The four-day workweek is in reality, for many working parents, a very important element to having a career that actually makes sense. But just because it makes a lot of sense doesn’t mean that it’s the policy everywhere. The good news is that the pandemic has hastened on this cultural shift, and argument, as millions of parents were kicked out of the workforce.

The 32-hour week has been pilot tested by companies and countries alike. Businesses report the same level of productivity and workers self-report being happier and more focused on their jobs when they shift from a five to a four-day workweek.

And now, Kickstarter, the New York City-based crowdfunding platform has decided to attempt the four-day or 32-hour workweek without reducing their pay, joining companies like Shake Shack, Unilever, Deloitte, and KPMG in experimenting testing how shortening hours could, or wouldn’t affect the bottom line of companies.

And it’s not just companies that are trying the 32-hour week on for a size. The Japanese government unveiled economic policy guidelines in late June that recommended workers move to a four-day workweek instead of the typical five-day work schedule in order to boost work-life balance, so that workers have more time with their kids, spouses, elderly parents, or have more time to enjoy themselves and spend money and boost the economy. 

Unilever, the massive international corporation that also owns Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, Klondike, and Axe, alongside hundreds of other major brands sold internationally, announced that they would do a trial run of a four-day workweek in December of 2020 for a few hundred workers. The trial is still underway and will wrap up in December of 2021. Results from the program could give more data into a program that many parents and working people have been clamoring for for years. 

Since previous studies have shown that 32-hour workweeks are associated with increased productivity — suggesting that more time out of the office leads to more in-office motivation — it’s more likely than not that Unilever and Kickstarter’s pilot programs could show the same. Meanwhile, American workers are spending longer and longer hours at the workplace, despite productivity not budging an inch, and are reportedly unhappier, spending more money on child care, and spending less time at home.

The 32-hour workweek is a massive swing at repairing the link between time spent at work and the productivity, and health, of workers and companies. Hopefully, these experiments work and ripple out to create a new, exciting world of work for parents and people alike.