For decades, we had been talking about the possibility of working less and having a more extended weekend. While we are only at the beginning of a significant transition period, with the emergence of the 4 day workweek, the days when we will be working less may not be that far!Recently, Belgian authorities passed legislation allowing Belgium employees to have a 4 day workweek. Previously, Spain tried shifting to a 4 day workweek and similar rumors, although later falsified by government officials, were heard about Finland trying a 4 day workweek. While a shorter workweek (or a compressed work schedule as some people call it) has been discussed for a long time in other countries, Belgium is now taking concrete action to materialize such a plan.But what are the pros and cons of a 4 day work week and more importantly, what does it mean for autonomous professionals and fellow Ruulers? Although the question is not easy to answer due to its novelty, we tried elaborating the 4 day workweek in-depth in this article.
What is the 4-day workweek?
Since working less appeals to many people, regulations trying to establish a new order in the labor market and reduce the number of days worked are often misunderstood. If we want to understand how to make a 4 day workweek work, and more importantly, how to make a 4 day workweek productive, then we should be well informed about its ins and outs.
Does working for 4 days mean working for less hours?
First, if we are going to follow the Belgian example, we must say that a 4 day work week doesn’t mean full time employees or freelancers in Belgium will work less hours. The Belgian authorities made it specifically clear that the 4 day work week, if succeeded, will be a compressed week where the employees will still be required to work 40 hours per week only squeezed into 4 days. On the other hand, countries like Spain actually tried to cut the working hours down to 32 per week.
Which countries are trying the 4-day workweek model?
Over the last two years, multiple countries ran trials concerning the 4 day workweek model. Major countries that tried testing the results of a 4 day work week were;
- some states in the US
- Scotland and Wales in the UK
However, other countries such as UAE plan to shift to a 4 day work week.
The benefits of the 4-day workweek
We have seen the previous generations working for 5, in some cases 6 days during a workweek. So why should we have a 4 day workweek and what are its potential benefits? The 4 day workweek has been discussed for some time as a solution to multiple problems and challenges that we face in the contemporary world.
More cost-effective for employers and governments
Firstly, it is believed that a 4 day work week will make employers and governments make savings. Such savings are not only thought to be vital in a post Covid-19 world where markets face profound difficulties but also beneficial to counter some of the energy-related aspects of global warming: although it is not yet proven through experimentation, a 4 day work week is actually thought to be nature-friendly and sustainable.
An opportunity for a new social experiment
Secondly, people think a 4 day workweek will be better because in contemporary times, when most of the workload is handled with the help of computers, a 5 day workweek is thought to be somewhat unnecessary and out of fashion. A 4 day workweek can improve our work-life balance and help us do more of what we want in our free time.
The negative sides of the 4-day workweek
It is not possible to talk about a 4 day workweek without looking at both sides of the issue: the pros and the cons. There are several points to touch upon to evaluate why a 4 day workweek is possibly harmful.Unlike governments, corporations and employees foresee, a 4 day workweek may not lead to an increase in savings. Similarly, it may do very little for our environment and turn out to be ineffective in the betterment of the climate crisis. Also, a compressed workweek can put more weight on the shoulders of both full-time employees and solo professionals. Lastly, in places where labor market regulations are somewhat loose and impotent, a 4 day workweek can create a scenario in which people work just as the same under the disguise of a shorter workweek.
How does the 4-day workweek impact autonomous professionals?
So, how will the 4 day workweek affect autonomous professionals and freelancers? The 4 day workweek, combined with working remotely, can blur the line between a regular employee and a freelancer. Another possible impact that the 4 day workweek may have is the disparity between clients who adopt a 5 day workweek and autonomous professionals who wish to shift towards a 4 day workweek. Such a gap can create communication challenges and the loss of some potential clients for freelancers.