4-Day Workweek May Be New Normal, Boston College Professor Finds

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A professor at Boston College is leading an international team of researchers in collaboration with a global movement to study the benefits of a four-day workweek, with five days of pay.

4 Day Week Global is a not-for-profit community established to provide a platform for people looking to reform the typical five-day workweek schedule.

The foundation funds a six-month pilot program for companies interested in the four-day workweek with no pay loss. 4 Day Week Global coordinates the pilot program with research partners at Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College.

Juliet Schor, a sociologist and economist at Boston College, has focused her career on the intersection of work, consumption, and climate. Schor has written several books on her research, one of which was a national best-seller entitled "The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure," published in 1993.

Schor presented her findings of the benefits for a four-day workweek during her TED Talk presentation in April.

"While the results do vary, the research shows that people are less stressed, value their jobs more, and have better lives outside of work," Schor said in her TED Talk.

The idea behind 4 Day Week Global came after a successful four-day workweek trial at Perpetual Garden in New Zealand conducted by The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology in 2018.

Perpetual Garden is believed to be the first privately held company in the world to embark on the eight-week trial. In the trial, 240 employees worked four days and received a paid day off each week, allowing staff to be paid for 37.5 hours while only working 30. All other employment conditions remained the same, and the employees were asked to produce the same amount of work as they did working five-day workweeks.

The schools found that "engagement levels rose between 30 and 40 percent, work-life balance metrics rose by 44 percent, empowerment by 26 percent, leadership by 28 percent, work stimulation by 27 percent, and organizational commitment by 29 percent," according to 4 Day Week Global.

Andrew Barnes, the Perpetual Guardian founder, said the four-day week goes beyond the benefits of a long weekend.

“It’s about delivering productivity, and meeting customer service standards, meeting personal and team business goals and objectives," Barnes stated on the company website.

4 Day Week Global has run pilot programs in six countries and the movement is continuing to grow.

The four-day workweek movement is gaining publicity in Massachusetts, like in Swampscott where town employees tried it out in May.

Read More: Swampscott Town Employees Begin 4-Day Workweek

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald told WBZ's Brooke McCarthy, "We've been really thinking critically how do we really become that employer of choice."

Schor believes the four-day business model greatly increases employer and customer satisfaction and has positive impacts on revenue growth and lower turnover. She explains in her TED Talk the shorter workweek model could potentially help businesses with bigger challenges such as burnout and the climate crisis, all while working less.

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