This country just normalized the 4-day work-week

We love a long weekend as much as the next full time employee—but is the idea of a regular long weekend, or four-day workweek, actually a good idea?

Spain seems to think that it might be.

The European country has recently announced that it’s going to be trying out a new form of work-life balance with the idea being that adding an extra day to the weekend will boost employee morale and allow society to achieve more in less time.

The concept was originally brought forward by the Spanish political party Más País and has officially been approved for a pilot program to see just how well the idea of a four-day workweek would play out in practice.

“Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we’re not among the most productive countries,” Íñigo Errejón, the president of the Más País political party, told The Guardian in a statement. “I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better.”

The pilot program still has hoops to jump through before Spanish employees can officially celebrate that extra day off. In fact, it’ll take about three years and €50 million to get the trial concept off the ground while mitigating risk for participating companies.

The cost of a company trialing the four-day workweek concept will, in turn, be covered at 100 percent the first year, 50 percent the third year, and so on. That said, it’s expected that if all goes well, it will also be financially beneficial for companies whose employees take a third day off each week.

“With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers,” Héctor Tejero of the Más País political party explained to The Guardian. “The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs.”

But could a four-day workweek really pay off in terms of employee happiness and production in countries like the United States? While we’d all love an extra day to loaf on the couch, having eight less hours to get the same amount of work done does seem like a daunting task.

James Page, Executive for Cryptohead, an Australian-based cryptocurrency educational resource, believes that the benefits of a four-day workweek outweigh any negative aspects or learning curves that might come along with it. In fact, he and his team have made the decision to implement a four-day workweek this year.

“After a thorough consultation with the team, we implemented a four-day work week for everyone beginning early next year, even before the pandemic was a worldwide issue,” Page explains. “We opted for 40 hours a week, but then gave more leeway for the staff to adjust to the new situation and settle other personal matters that might be impacted by that.”

According to Page, this new system actually makes everyone ecstatic, as they are given another day to do personal errands or anything not-work related. This even became better as the pandemic effect started to engulf companies, making working difficult, because the additional free day became a breather for most of our people.

“It also boosted productivity in the workplace because more employees are focused on finishing a task so that they’ll be able to maximize their additional free day,” shares Page.

“Work-life balance has always been a struggle and nowadays employees feel that traditional working week is taking over their lives,” adds Igor Avidon, Founder, Avidon Marketing Group in Los Angeles. “But the question is can employees accomplish the same amount of work in four days as they can in five?”

According to Avidon, the benefits of a four-day workweek is really three-fold; spanning much further than the obvious benefits of employees feeling like they have a much more sustainable work-life balance. The added benefits include:

More productivity innovations

While it might seem like giving up that extra day will result in employees dropping the ball or skipping over certain tasks, Avidon believes it will actually foster more innovations and disruptive approaches to traditional workflow.

“By implementing new time-saving methods, employees are more inclined to come up with newer and better productivity hacks,” he explains.

More efficient usage of time

Likewise, instead of spending those first few hours of the morning skimming through newsletters or browsing on Amazon, employees will be encouraged to get work right away.

“When employees have comparatively less time on their hands, they are less likely to waste it on unnecessary and inefficient tasks such as team meetings and are less inclined to take excessive breaks as well,” says Avidon.

Environmental benefits

Many of us might be working from home right now, but commuting to the office will eventually resume—and when it does, it will bring a larger collective carbon footprint that can be reduced by a shorter workweek.

“A four-day workweek can also critically reduce each individual employee’s carbon footprint by significantly reducing commute pollution,” says Avidon.