Three-day weekends could save productivity and lives

Illustration by Lindsay Lang


Five days. Eight to 12 hours shifts each day. Then all you’ve got is the weekend to try and relax or finish those around-the-house projects before the work week begins all over again.

Overworking is a serious problem among adults; not just in the United States, but in many other countries as well. Japan even has a word for it — karoshi.

Whether it’s just trying to live paycheck to paycheck or saving up for retirement, people can’t seem to make it to their end goal without having to put in some serious hours.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 full-time workers spent an average of 7.94 hours a day at work, and 2.94 hours worked at home. Part-time workers averaged 8.28 hours at work and 3.11 hours of work at home.

Because of the amount of hours people must spend at work, their health seems to be the first thing that goes; whether it’s from stress, lack of sleep or being unable to get enough nutrition. From all of this, people who are overworked usually suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Both of which can lead to major heart problems.

The solution to overworking? A four-day work week.

Over the summer, Microsoft Japan tested a four day work week for their staff. The staff was able to keep a five-day paycheck over the summer. The result? A 40% increase in productivity for the company. The company plans a winter trial as well.

The success of the four-day work week began back when New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian had a successful trial run in March 2018. For eight weeks, employees would work 30 hours a week but still get paid for 37.5 hours and they were required to do the same amount of work.

After the eight-week trial, Perpetual Guardian saw a 20% gain in productivity. Not just that, but team engagement such as: leadership, commitment, stimulation and empowerment all went up by at least 10%. Stress levels among the staff also dropped by 7%.

Both of these companies have proved that a four-day work week would benefit both the company and the health of their employees.

The four-day work week is something that should be implemented all around. If these are the kind of results we can see among trial runs, then perhaps it is worth giving a shot. Not only for the company, but for the wellbeing of working adults as well.

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