Is the four-day work week nearly here?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 28, 2020

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

It may sound silly to be talking about work during the holiday season, but soon it will be over and people will be back to working from home (or, as some call it, “living at work”.)

That’s when thoughts will turn once again to the length of the work week. But attempts are underway to shorten it. Global consumer goods giant Unilever is testing out a four-day work week in New Zealand.

On December 1, the Philippines began a four-day work week for courts and their staff and officials. And several Chinese provinces have moved to a 4.5-day week since March. US job postings too increasingly offer four-day weeks.

What gives? Why offer full pay for (presumably) less work? Ah, because it isn’t less work, not necessarily.

According to Unilever NZ chief executive Nick Bangs, the goal is productivity rather than actual hours worked. By offering “the ultimate form of flexibility”, the company wants to boost employee wellness.

The Chinese, however, are trying to boost consumption. Presumably, they figure time off-work would but naturally be spent shopping. This isn’t a given, of course, but there you go.

Different strokes for different folks, as they say.