4-day work weeks have been in the talks since as early as the 1960s. There have been many trials – most of them isolated – in the past with the long weekend model. Some of them resulted in changed policies and some failed, reinstating the usual 5-day work week. The 4Day Work Week Campaign has been pushing the idea of having a 3-day weekend without losing productivity (increasing it, arguably). The idea finally took hold of a hundred companies in the UK employing 2600 people, and after a trial period, the companies have decided to keep the 4-day work week model permanently without a loss of pay.
The new policy has been accepted wholeheartedly by the employees who report less stress and better productivity.
The question is, will the rest of the world follow suit? The 4Day Work Week Campaign is quite enthusiastic about the idea and they are certain that the change in Britain involving a hundred companies is the beginning of a major shift worldwide.
If you look at the history of the work-week and how it evolved into the 2-day weekend model, the 3-day weekend might not seem like a far-fetched idea. Sunday was initially proclaimed as a holiday (deriving from a holy day) reserved for spiritual practices during the Industrial revolution in Christian Europe.
A lot of people used the day to make merry and have a “good time” and ended up missing work on Monday or turned up not-so-fit for work. So, the mill owners decided to make Saturday a half-day. Around 1908, an American company decided to give the employees the whole day off on Saturday so that the Jewish workforce can observe their holy practices on Sabbath (Saturday). This practice was adopted by Henry Ford in 1926. And now, the 5-day work-week is normalized in most of the places.
The experiments with the 4-day have been going on for a while, and the employees around the world would surely want to see an all pervasive adoption of the same model. Technological supremacy allows us to get work done faster. If employees are getting more work done every hour, reducing the hours does seem like the right step forward.