Better world: Take Friday off… forever - 15 September 2009 - New Scientist
Better world: Take Friday off… forever
* 15 September 2009 by David Cohen
* Magazine issue 2725. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
The four-day week could boost employment, save energy and make us happier.
FANCY a three-day weekend - not just once in a while but week in week out? You may think your bosses would never agree to it, but the evidence suggests that employers, employees and the environment all benefit.
The four-day week comes in two flavours. One option is to switch from five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days, meaning overall hours and salaries stay the same. In August 2008, the state of Utah moved all of its employees, apart from the emergency services, to working 4/10, as it has become known. The hope was that by shutting down buildings for an extra day each week, energy bills would be slashed by up to a fifth.
The full results of this experiment won't be published until October, but an ongoing survey of 100 buildings suggests energy consumption has fallen by around 13 per cent. The survey also found that 70 per cent of employees prefer the 4/10 arrangement, and that people took fewer days off sick.
The second form of the four-day week is to work the same number of hours per day for four days only, with a commensurate 20 per cent pay cut. With the recession hitting revenues, accountancy company KPMG announced in February that it was offering its 11,000 UK employees the option of a four-day week to avoid job losses. So far 85 per cent of employees have applied to join the scheme, and 800 now do a four-day week.