If you’ve spent your life working, as most of us have, you’ve come to cherish three day weekends.
Three days in a row of not having to get up before I’m ready? Sign me up!
And let’s be honest. Getting up when we’re ready is really what a day off means. You might have plans for that third day, but getting to look at that clock as you wake up and think, “I’ll get up eventually,” and close your eyes, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
What if the three day weekend could be permanent? Which day would you choose? Getting an early start on Friday could really set the right tone. But doing stuff on Sunday, knowing you didn’t have to get up the next day, would make Monday just as good of a choice.
This comes to mind as Iceland recently did a four year study to see how a four day work week affected people. Would it make workers happier? Would it depress them?
After all, the human brain likes routine. Likes it a lot in some people and the five day work week is a deeply ingrained thing in a lot of countries.
This is how the study was described in the story I read: “The study, conducted by the Association for Sustainable Democracy in Iceland and the U.K.-based think tank Autonomy, studied 2,500 workers — about 1% of Iceland’s working population — in two major trials between 2015 and 2019. The trials ‘not only aimed to improve work-life balance but also to maintain or increase productivity,’” noted the report. “There was no cut in pay for the reduction to 35 to 36 hours a week. The trials included a variety of workplaces, from traditional offices to preschools and hospitals, in 9-to-5 jobs as well as in non-traditional shifts. They were launched by the Reykjavík City Council and the Icelandic national government in response to shorter work week campaigns by unions and social organizations.”
The study found that people liked it, felt healthier with more time off and would be very much in favor of having a permanent four day work week.
A couple of things about the study. Yes, I know Iceland and America are very different countries. And they might have a different set of work hours, but if their four days equal 35-36 hours, they work longer than a standard 40 hour week. Here, based on that standard 40 hour week, four days would equal 32 hours.
But maybe it only takes them 35-36 hours to complete their jobs during the week and the second half of their Fridays were just spent goofing off. Lot of American jobs like that. Most refer to it as a time to destress from the work week. I guess.
The idea that this could be done in America is total nonsense, of course. We’re a nation of hard workers, by God, and we would be totally humiliated by working any less than we have to. Give me more hours, bossman!
Also, as I saw somebody write on Facebook, “99 percent of the world wants a four day workweek, but 8 super rich guys are against it, so …”
And the thought of giving you the same pay for less work would give the people running most American companies cardiac arrest. Remember, we live in a country where companies proudly proclaim starting pay of $10 an hour as if it’s still 1984 and $10 an hour puts you among the highest paid in your area.
And honestly, some places already do the four day work week thing. A lot of factories do it and various emergency services only want you around four days a week. Of course, they usually ask for 10-12 hours during those four days, but you do get some overtime.
Ah yes, overtime, the one thing that helps a lot of people keep going. How would that work in a four day week?
Would you start getting overtime at 32 hours and one second, or would you still have to wait until 40 hours and one second?
If America ever did choose to go to a four day workweek, it would probably be worked different ways for different professions. I could even see some places making it an average of four days a week, meaning some long stretches of work time and long stretches of off time. And some people would probably prefer that.
But it’s just conjecture. As long as half the country thinks everything is perfect and should never change, nothing will.