Henry Ford Motor Companies was the first company to adopt a five-day, 40-hour work week in 1926, according to History.com. This ultimately changed the view of the standard working duration.
While a five-day work week became the job industry standard, new research reveals that a four-day work week may be more compatible with the way humans work.
In the United Kingdom, over 70 firms have already completed a six-month pilot program where using a four-day workweek model led to an increase in productivity.
Joe O’Connor, chief executive of 4 Week Global, which is running the stratagem, created this research project on working time reduction.
“The pioneers who have taken the leap to participate in this trial are challenging deeply embedded cultural and societal norms about how we think about the work week, and indeed work itself,” O’Conner said in a Forbes article.
While ongoing research is being conducted about the four-day workweek, Nathan Iverson, director of the industrial-organizational psychology program and associate professor of psychology, shared that he thinks this new study might have varied impacts depending on the type of job.
“I anticipate this trend continued for office jobs,” Iverson said. “We will move more toward flexible work options to include hybrid, remote and generally less days in the office. However, not all tasks can be compressed into less hours. Skilled labor such as carpentry, plumbing and auto mechanic work is billed hourly.”
Fewer days in the office reduce time and money spent commuting. Iverson also explained how Japan has already seen an increase in productivity by reducing required time spent in the office.
“Japan in particular has been a leader in this area and has seen an increase in productivity by reducing required time spent in the office,” Iverson said.
“Panasonic is one of the recent large companies to embrace this shift. Hybrid work not only saves employee resources, but also company resources on renting less space and lowering company energy use.”
Though research is being conducted in other countries, Iverson said this trend already has been seen throughout the U.S. and in Riverside.
As the four-day work week continues to trend for other countries, California has tried taking a step toward this new working duration.
Democratic Congressman Mark Takano initiated a California bill with an attempt to reduce the working hours from 40 to 32 hours.
“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,” Takano said in a press release.
Though this bill was later declined by the California State Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee, the four-day work week continues to seek attention in hopes of setting the new standard working duration.
Bohdin Rush, sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, described how a four-day work week would be beneficial.
“For everyday workers, it allows for more rest which allows for them to function closer to 100%,” Rush said. “This would include possible stress, anxiety and insomnia of some workers.
“It also allows time to work from home if needed to finish extra work and get ahead, which improves work efficiency. ”
While a four-day work week continues to undergo research, the future may soon see a new working duration pattern.