As demand to ditch the traditional 40-hour workweek persists, and companies continue to test and toy with the idea, the results just keep on stacking up in its favour.
In a recent month-long trial, workers in Valencia, Spain, have shown that reducing the current working week provides overwhelming benefits for health and wellbeing, as well as environmental perks.
While academics, governments, and companies the world over discuss the pros and cons of a reduction in days, Spain has sat at the forefront of these trials, with major companies taking part across the country.
4-Day Week Results are In…
Valencia City Council chose to run the trial between April and May this year, as there were already three holidays within the month. This meant companies only needed to remove one extra day to make it a month of four-day working weeks.
Around 360,000 workers took part in the trial, which is just one of many currently happening across Spain right now.
Despite it being short in length, the trial’s results highlighted several significant benefits for both employees and the country as a whole.
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Personal and Environmental Benefits of 4-Day Week
So, what exactly are these much-coveted benefits?
Those taking part reported a 35% reduction in stress levels, alongside a 64% increase in the amount of sleep they got. The two of course go hand in hand and are both major contributors to the health and wellness of employees. So already that’s a massive tick for companies who have experienced staff sickness or leave due to burnout arising from poor sleep and too much stress.
Socialising and leisure activities were also on the up, with 72% of participants spending more time with friends, 46% increasing their time spent reading, and 37% upping their physical activity. All of which contributes to happier, healthier people, and therefore more productive employees if the science is to be believed. And spoiler alert, it should be.
Benefits didn’t stop on a personal level either, as the city itself reaped environmental rewards thanks to workers taking that extra day off. A 58% reduction of Nitrogen Dioxide concentration was found in the air, along with a 9.5% decrease in traffic.
Similarly, the study showed a positive effect on companies in the leisure and hospitality sectors, as people made the most of their additional free time by going out to eat or enjoy the city. However, this did highlight one downside, in that people were smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol more. We guess you can’t have it all.
4-Day Week Findings are a “New Milestone”
Spain’s progressive attitude to working and giving employee’s more flexibility and autonomy should come as no surprise, as the country also claims the number two spot for ‘best country in the world for remote working’.
Former Valencia Mayor and Speaker for the City Hall’s Compromís electoral coalition, Joan Ribo stated: “The trial has been an enormous success and has provided significant empirical evidence of the positive impact of the four-day week on workers' health and city-wide dynamics. We have seen a sharp decrease in traffic intensity and air pollution, a broad improvement in overall health perception by workers and more free time dedicated to cultural and leisure activities.”
Ribo went on to call the findings a “new milestone” in Spain’s move towards a four-day working week. And they’re not the only country to say the same.
In the UK, where the largest 4-day working trial ran, none of the companies who took part planned on going back to a 5-day working week. While productivity remained stable, employee satisfaction dramatically shot up, highlighting the gains to be had both personally and societally.