The five-day week is a template of working life, but a number of countries and companies have begun to wonder if the status quo could be upset.
It seems that moving to a working week that is less than five days long won’t lead to the collapse of capitalism.
In fact, countries like the UAE believe there are benefits.
As a result, the country has announced it will move to a four and a half-day working week as of 1 January.
This means that people will typically work from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, which means an average of eight and a half working hours per day. However, on Fridays, the company will only work four and a half hours (7:30 am to 12 pm).
#UAE announces today that it will transition to a four and a half day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend.
All Federal government departments will move to the new weekend from January 1, 2022. pic.twitter.com/tQoa22pai9
— UAEGOV (@UAEmediaoffice) December 7, 2021
Will other countries follow suit?
In a statement about the reasoning behind the decision, the government said that: “Longer weekends boost productivity and improve work-life balance.”
Additionally, the government noted that it will “ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies,” despite closing on a Friday at 12 PM rather than at 3:30 PM.
The likes of Bolt have already trialed a four-day working week after realizing that staff worked harder and produced better work in a four day period.
Equally, a study in Iceland proved a shorter working week is positive for productivity and wellbeing. The study saw 2,500 workers shift to a day less working while receiving the same pay.
The report concluded: “Importantly, the widespread benefits on physical and psychological health, which we have seen here described by the trials’ participants, were sustained over the trials’ long timespan.”
In this specific case, it was found that a reduction in working hours could help tackle burnout that is currently widespread.
The Icelandic report wrote: “This resilience, combined with the widespread uptake of shorter working hours contracts amongst Icelandic workers, can lead us to hope for transformative long-term health effects on workers, owing to less stress and burnout coupled with improved morale and wellbeing at work.”
As many companies struggle to keep burnt out staff who are looking elsewhere for work and are no longer being productive, a four-day week could be an effective solution.
This could be one solution in a working economy that is struggling to retain and attract. However, for many industries a reduction in days worked would undoubtedly require widespread action.
With that in mind, unions would likely be required to implement cross-sector four-day or four-day-and-a-half weeks, and this can be a difficult process.
Nonetheless, those in the UAE will be celebrating this newfound free time that looks set to make people happier and more productive.