California Eyes Four-Day Workweek For Large Businesses – Pros And Cons

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that California has introduced a bill to shorten the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours. The bill would affect companies that have over 500 employees. Essentially the workday would remain 8 hours but require overtime pay for employees who work longer than 32 hours a week. This legislation would impact 2,600 companies and about 3.6 million employees if approved.

Which is better: A four-day workweek or five? A proposal in the California Legislature would define the workweek as 32 hours for private-sector companies with more than 500 employees https://t.co/29rG6pJFgA

— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 16, 2022

Who Doesn’t Like A 3-Day Weekend?

A survey conducted by Qualtrics indicates that an overwhelming majority of American workers, 92%, favor a 4-day work week even if it means more extended hours. In her research project on the shortened workweek, Juliet Schor, an economist, and sociologist at Boston College, found that this statistic has merit.

Employees found they had more free time, lower stress, a better work-life balance, better health, and well-being. In addition, companies found that they had a reduction in resignations, sick leave, and absenteeism, a higher-quality applicant pool, and lower healthcare costs. 

Andrew Barnes, who is the co-founder of the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, said, “…not about work-life balance. This is a very sensible, rational business practice that improves your productivity and profitability by giving your staff more time off.”

4 Day Week Global ascribes to a 100/80/100 model. The concept is that you get 100% productivity 80% of the time with 100% of the pay. 

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Is It Time To Re-Evaluate?

The last time Congress took a look at the Fair Labor Standards Act was in 1940, when it was amended to what we have now with working 40 hours a week.

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An argument can be made that a lot has changed with the workforce since the ’40s. Technological advances have changed the workspace allowing remote work, cross-country collaboration, and software that allows for real-time project updates for teams geographically separated. 

A 2018 survey by Workforce Institute at Kronos found that nearly half of full-time workers asked said it should take fewer than five hours a day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted.

That’s 2,772 employees surveyed across eight nations.

So what interrupts workers throughout the day? Meetings, team-building events, and social engagements.

Banks Benitez, CEO of Uncharted, who started the four-day workweek back in 2020, stated clearly, “There are so many parts of the workweek that are just a waste of time.”

Meetings – A Waste Of Time

As someone who loathes any meeting, I would always be in a heightened state of agitation if I sat through a meeting that could’ve easily been an email.

With the ability to participate in asynchronous communication through applications like Slack, MS Teams, and Basecamp, there seems little reason for most companies to partake in physical meetings.

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And as my business guru, Elon Musk, would argue, meetings should be short and only when necessary with the ability to walk out if the meeting doesn’t provide you any substance.

I sometimes daydream about what it would’ve been like to step out of meetings from my past…

I am also someone who would rather be left alone to work than being forced into a team-building event or non-mandatory but mandatory social engagement.

However, some have more extroverted personalities that feed off of that interaction…I am just not one of them. As Ryan Breslow, former CEO at the San Francisco financial technology startup Bolt, says, “Work like a lion, not a cow.”

All in all, 38 companies in the U.S. and Canada are taking part in the 4 Day Week Global effort. 

What A 4-Day Work Week Could Mean For California

Not everyone thinks a mandated four-day workweek is a good idea.

The California Chamber of Commerce calls it a “job killer” that would make hiring new employees more expensive and lower employment in the future. The bill tries to mitigate potential wage loss to employees from a reduced workweek by providing, “The compensation rate of pay at 32 hours shall reflect the previous compensation rate of pay at 40 hours.”

Compensating hourly employees for overtime could be expensive.

In addition, a limited workweek could negatively impact customer service, heighten employees’ stress to complete the same amount of work in less time, and negatively impact sick leave and paid time-off accrual. 

While I’m personally all for flexible hours and a shortened workweek, like most things, the government probably wrecks this concept instead of fast-tracking it.

Not every company can operate in a reduced workweek concept, and mandating how it’s done is also not good.

But like most things, the government believes they know best how to manage processes because they’ve shown time and time again proof of that…right?

“Why do progressives think any idea they come up with has to be imposed by political coercion? You know the answer. Because they believe in their superior moral virtue, and they like to order other people around.”https://t.co/4sTSKLW3ao.

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) April 16, 2022

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