Germany kicks off a six-month trial of a 4-day work week from February 1, a bold move towards improving employee well-being and productivity amid global shifts favoring a return to full-time office work post-pandemic.
Spearheaded by New Zealand-based non-profit 4 Day Week Global, this trial involves 45 companies and aligns with Belgium’s recent adoption of a 4-day work week within the European Union, as well as Japan’s push for a similar approach to support family time and boost the economy.
This initiative responds to a concerning report revealing Germans couldn’t work an average of 21.3 days in 2022, resulting in a substantial loss of 207 billion Euros. Employee dissatisfaction further contributed to low workplace engagement, costing the global economy €8.1 trillion in 2023, as reported by Bloomberg. Germany, facing economic challenges, a shortage of skilled workers, and rising inflation, sees the 4-day week as an opportunity to tap into untapped potential among part-time workers.
— 4 Day Week Global (@4dayweek_global) January 30, 2024
The trial entails employees working fewer hours per week for the same pay, provided their output remains consistent or increases. The anticipated benefits include heightened productivity and a reduction in employee leave due to stress, sickness, or burnout.
Advocates argue that this approach could mitigate losses for companies and the global economy. Despite concerns voiced by Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner about potential threats to economic growth, 4 Day Week Global points to successful experiments in the US, Canada, the UK, and Portugal, where workers reported improved mental and physical health along with reduced burnout.
Companies participating in Germany’s 4-day workweek initiative express optimism about achieving similar positive outcomes, emphasizing the need for substantial work redesign to streamline operations, remove administrative burdens, and prioritize high-impact work, as highlighted in a Harvard Business Review article titled “How to Actually Execute a 4-Day Workweek,” published in December last year.