The 4-day work week

Published on December 31, 2023   21 min

Other Talks in the Series: Future Work Now

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Hello everyone. My name is John Hopkins and I'm an Associate Professor of Management from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and it's my pleasure to join you here today to share some findings with you from a research project I was involved in, in early 2023, entitled "Emerging 4-Day Work Week Trends from Australia", which discusses new insights based on interviews with Australian firms who have already adopted 4-day work week arrangements.
This is part of the "Future Work Now" series of Henry Stewart Talks and I'll begin by giving you a brief overview of the research, some background context, discuss the methods we use, and the motivations behind the study. Then, I'll discuss some of the key findings before finishing with some final thoughts and predictions about the future of the 4-day work week.
The first notion of a 4-day work week can be traced back as far as 1908, when the Ford Motor Company first began offering its employees a five-day 40-hour workweek, which was considered revolutionary at the time. Prior to that, the standard work week was six days. In the decades that followed, various companies and labor unions around the world began advocating for shorter work weeks with the goal of improving work-life balance and reducing the risk of burnout. The idea of a 4-day work week started to gain mainstream attention in the 1970s, when the oil crisis forced some companies to implement reduced work schedules as an attempt to conserve energy. 50 years later, the idea is now gaining significant global attention again. With a growing number of organizations experimenting with the 4-day work week as a means of boosting productivity, reducing stress, and improving work-life balance for employees. The catalyst for this resurgence of interest in the 4-day work week is the sudden increase in demand for more flexible work arrangements in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This talk investigates 4-day work week trends in Australia and discusses findings from a series of interviews we conducted with 10 firms who have already adopted these work arrangements.