If one thing has come to light since the global coronavirus pandemic came to define our lives, it’s that we are a nation of hard workers. Increasingly, work has come to be seen not only as a source of income, but an extension of our own identity. Not surprisingly, so many of us agonise over our careers and work choices, believing we need to find something that inspires us, a passion to hone and craft and, ultimately, monetise. Regardless of where you stand on the job front though - if you’re merely someone who lives to work or works to live - enforced lockdown saw many of us question whether we were truly living the lifestyles we want for ourselves. Hours spent at the desk have seen us now yearn for the outdoors and more time off, coinciding with a global push for a four-day working week.
The idea of a four-day work week has been championed for decades. Now, Scotland plans to launch a trial four-day workweek after a campaign promise made by the ruling Scottish National Party. It insists that workers will have their hours reduced by 20 per cent, but won’t suffer any loss in compensation. Funded by the SNP with a 10 million pound fund, the monies will be used to experiment with an abbreviated workweek.
The implementation of such a trial comes after a recent poll conducted in Scotland, which saw 80 per cent of people respond favourable to the idea. Respondents said the program would not only enhance their health, but their happiness too, using results from other countries like Iceland, New Zealand and Japan as proof.
Already, a number of Scottish businesses have begun to implement a variation of a four-day workweek. As Forbes reports, Glasgow-based UPAC Group said it’s employees would enjoy a four-day week with the same salary after running a successful pilot program. Other companies have promised a push for higher wages, too.
Ultimately, the implementation of a four-day workweek makes one thing clear to employees: mental health and wellbeing is a priority. As many have experienced burnout at some point during their lives, most notably in the last few months as a result of lockdown, the health of workers and support granted by companies and employers has never been more important. Regardless of whether the four-day workweek garners further traction around the world or not, it speaks volumes of a concerted effort by employers to make workers happy and motivated.
As the BBC notes, such attitudes can also be fostered through “autonomy, flexibility, trust, space for creativity, and high-quality management that makes people feel valued and that their work is worthwhile. Cutting hours doesn’t help managers get better at managing, or that workers find ways to utilise their technology more efficiently. Not unless those reduced hours are directed to improved training, perhaps.”
Still, it’s food for thought and given the current climate in Australia, you can’t help but wonder if it’s just a matter of time before we also start pushing for a four-day workweek, too.