But is the four-day week really something that every company can afford? “Practically speaking there’s no downside, and it’s feasible on a widespread basis,” says Leland, but “it takes courage to do it”.
Sometimes, employers only need a little push, and that’s where government action comes into play. “Political action is needed in order to drive such a big change. National governments must show the way,” says Frey. The Spanish government recently confirmed it will pay up to €150,000 ($159,000/£133,000) to small and medium enterprises that test the four-day week.
Government support could materialise in other ways too, says Frey, such as reducing by law the maximum limit of work hours, or acting as a pioneer itself. “The public sector is one of the biggest employers in all European countries,” he says. “If it offers a four-day week, private companies will have to stay competitive to attract employees.”
Still, the more companies that themselves venture into this territory, the more governments will be pressed to act. “These pilot programmes are really important to push the political agenda, especially if climate benefits enter the conversation,” says Gerold.
The four-day week also has an edge over many other climate solutions: it’s not perceived as a sacrifice. “A shorter workweek with no loss in pay is joyful, ” says Leland. “It’s something that we all want.”
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