The 4 Day Week movement has steadily picked up speed over the three years since Andrew Barnes designed the 100:80:100 social and economic model (100 percent productivity in 80 percent of the time for 100 percent pay) and trialled it at Perpetual Guardian. Here he outlines where, and how, the movement is gaining traction.
Just a few months ago, the 4 Day Week was at a global tipping point, exciting but still largely theoretical; now, it’s a reality, with announcements from Spain that the government is supporting a nationwide trial of a 4 Day Week.
Under the terms of the pilot programme, the government has agreed to a proposal from political party Más País to allow companies to test cutting workers’ hours to 32 hours per week.
As part of the trial, the government is likely to cover 100 percent of companies’ costs for the first year, 50 percent for the second year, and 33 percent for the third year.
The 4 Day Week movement has steadily picked up speed over the three years since I designed the 100:80:100 social and economic model (100 percent productivity in 80 percent of the time for 100 percent pay) and trialled it at Perpetual Guardian in early 2018.
The extent of global interest in, and activity around, the 4 Day Week has brought me into a quasi-political role at home and abroad: I have met with business leaders in Spain and with senior politicians in New Zealand, the UK and elsewhere; and am helping ‘design’ the 4 Day Week as a member of the advisory boards of the US and Ireland 4 Day Week campaigns and the board of the newly created Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.
The events of the past 12 months have refocused leaders on solving problems by changing how people work.
India’s government has announced its plans to introduce new labour codes and rules that will give flexibility to companies looking to implement four-day working weeks.
In the southern hemisphere, global accounting firm PwC will shift most of its 8,000-strong workforce in Australia to a 4 Day week by May 1.
Additionally, employees who have children have the option to take a leave of absence and receive 20 percent of their normal pay (anywhere from one to six months); all employees are permitted to set aside “protected” hours of the day for family reasons, without meetings or assignments; and other entitlements are available including $2,000 in child or elder care reimbursement.
More widely, 4 Day Week campaigns and activities are amassing political, corporate and public support – a few examples:
• Four Day Week Ireland is advocating for a transition to a shorter working week for all public and private sector workers.
• I presented on the benefits of the 4 Day Week to the executive team of Unilever New Zealand; it subsequently made the decision to move its staff to a 4 Day Week with no change in pay, and we are also discussing the movement with its head office.
• Microsoft Japan notably reported a 39 percent increase in productivity from a 4 Day Week trial.
• UK-based company Target Publishing was able to reinstate pay and retain a 4 Day Week after temporary pay cuts due to Covid lockdown.
We are now in a phase of economic development, human health and climate crisis that requires as drastic a change as the eight-hour day was when it was legislated.
Covid hasn’t caused the tipping point – the social and economic trend was already moving in favour of the 4 Day Week – but the drastic effects of the pandemic mean we are now seeing in real time the importance of government and business collaborating to protect worker pay, while opening us up to the benefits of a productivity-focused, reduced-hour model for human well-being, business performance and the climate crisis.
It is clear the future of work has arrived.
Andrew Barnes is the founder of 4 Day Week Global and the founder of Perpetual Guardian.