From The Hustle

On August 13, 1923, U.S. Steel switched from 12-hour to 8-hour workdays — becoming one of the first major companies after Ford to do so. It took almost 2 decades — until 1940 — for Congress to cap the work week at 40 hours.

But just before that, in the early 1930s, the US considered adopting a universal 30-hour work week. Congress killed the bill — and with it, your dreams of downing margaritas every Friday at noon.

Now everyone’s buzzing about a 4-day work week — Andrew Yang, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a Washington State senator.

With workers burnt out from… *gestures at everything*… companies like Buffer are trying it out.

Here’s what a 4-day week looks like

Some definitions say a 4-day week = 10-hour days. But there’s another version — 32 hours over 4 days, with full-time benefits.

The logic of 32? Better-rested and happier employees are so much more productive that they don’t need a 5th day.

But does the 4-day week work? The data is mixed:

When Microsoft tried it last year in Japan, sales per employee soared 40%.

A New Zealand company claimed to see jumps in productivity and employee happiness. (Others have cast doubt on those numbers.)

But some companies that tried 4-day weeks, like London’s Wellcome Trust, abandoned them because they were “too operationally complex.”

Here’s one thing to remember

Workers aren’t seeing rewards for getting more done.

You might assume that more productivity translates to more time off or better pay. We’ve done the first part: Worker productivity went up 5% between 1987 and 2015.

But the pro-4-day crowd points out that the second step never happened — workers’ pay went up only 2%, and their hours never went down.


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