Opinion: California Should Test A 4-Day Workweek

Matt Lillywhite

The concept of a four-day workweek is gaining traction across the country. "92% of people support it and say it would improve their mental health and productivity," according to a survey published by CNBC.

How Could A 4-Day Workweek Be Implemented?

"Depending on the company and the industry, everyone might work Monday through Thursday and have Fridays off," according to Investopedia. "Other possibilities include allowing each employee to choose their extra day off or having a company-wide policy of a different third day off, such as Monday or Wednesday."

What Are The Benefits Of 4-Day Workweeks?

One of the primary reasons for implementing a four-day workweek is employee productivity (or lack thereof). According to a study of 1,989 full-time office workers, the average time spent working during a traditional eight-hour workday was only two hours and 23 minutes. The remaining time was often spent reading the news, scrolling on social media, and looking for new jobs.

In my opinion, employees should be productive while in the office. They're being paid to do a specific job or task. So, by testing a 4-day workweek, many companies in California will save money as their employees will only be in the office for as long as necessary. It's also worth noting that data from The World Economic Forum supports the idea of a four-day workweek being beneficial to California businesses:

"Research indicates that moving to a four-day working week can increase productivity, reduce overheads, boost well-being and attract and retain talent, as well as spurring job creation."

Some countries are already trialing 4-day workweeks. "Workers in Belgium will be entitled to a four-day workweek," according to Forbes. "The reform package agreed by the country's multi-party coalition government will also give workers the right to turn off work devices and ignore work-related messages after hours without fear of reprisal."

Another example is Iceland. "Between 2015 and 2019, the country put 2,500 of its public sector workers through two trials," according to CNN Business. "Crucially, those trials found no corresponding drop in productivity — and a dramatic increase in employee well-being."

What Are The Cons Of 4-Day Workweeks?

Obviously, not every industry in California can afford to switch to a different business model. For example, due to a lack of sufficient revenue to hire additional staff to cover lost hours, small businesses may struggle to provide existing employees with four-day work weeks. And since some businesses are open 24/7, giving employees an extra day off could create problems with shift scheduling.

Could A 4-Day Workweek Happen In California?

Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA 41st District) introduced legislation last year to reduce the national workweek to 32 hours. "A shorter workweek would benefit both employers and employees alike," said his press release. "Pilot programs run by governments and businesses across the globe have shown promising results, as productivity climbed and workers reported better work-life balance, less need to take sick days, heightened morale, and lower childcare expenses because they had more time with their family and children." 

Another piece of legislation is working through the California state legislature to make the standard workweek for companies with more than 500 employees 32 hours. According to CNBC, "there would be no cut in pay, and those who work more would be compensated at a rate of no less than 1.5 times the employee's regular rate of pay."

What do you think about testing a 4-day workweek in California? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media.

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