Should the U.S. Adopt the Four Day Work Week?

Should the U.S. Adopt the Four Day Work Week?

Diego Ruiz Duran, the Mexican criminal lawyer, and constitution lawyer is often called upon for his opinions about various business and social subjects. And one of the most common questions Duran is asked about is his opinion of a 4-day workweek.

Duran, who was extensively educated in the United States, at Harvard, and who obtained a law degree in Cambridge England, is very familiar with the debates, both pro and con about a 4-day workweek in the advanced Western countries.

The 4-day workweek has been experimented with in many countries and according to GQ Magazine, the vast majority of companies that have adopted some form of a 4-day workweek, have seen a 20 to 40 percent improvement in overall efficiency. And over 82 percent of workers want to see a shorter workweek. Meanwhile, a popular HR newsletter reports two big reasons not to adopt a 4-day workweek.

One is that many CEOs and senior execs believe that companies that adopt a 4-day workweek benefits those who do not bow to its whims as they are far more competitive in the market.

The other major argument is that 4-day workweeks are industry-specific, made all the more so by the COVID-19 pandemic where restaurants, hotels, and the like are having to boost wages as it is due to a shortage of workers.

How did we even get to a 40-hour workweek? In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which required employers to pay overtime after 44 hours of work. Two years later, the act was amended to require overtime pay after 40 hours.

So the 40-hour, 5-day workweek was rooted in the factories of the past. However, the vast majority of salaried workers are not included, and one average, for upwards to 47 hours per week.

There is plenty of evidence that working over 40 hours a week does tend to make employees less efficient and also less healthy and alert. But does working less provide positive benefits?

To answer the question, many experts point to happiness surveys of which countries experience the overall highest level of personal happiness.

For the 4th year in a row, Finland came in at the top spot, followed by Denmark at number 2, Iceland at number 4, Norway at number 6 and Sweden at Number 7. The United States barely cracked the top 20 at number 19.

Experts say time and time again, the primary reason the Nordic companies are so happy is that they have very flexible work schedules. Instead of needing to lie to the boss and say they have a dental appointment on Friday they simply tell the boss that me and my kids are going to take up a fishing trip on Friday. No need to lie, because managers have learned that happy employees are productive employees.

In actuality, just like pro athletes, employees involved in office work probably only work efficiently around 5 hours a day. The rest of the time is mostly wasted. But it may take another 50 years for there to be a 25 hour workweek. But Diego Ruiz Duran believes that the time is surely coming when the 40 hour workweek is extinct.