4-Day Workweek Proposal From Japan Could Help Work-Life Balance


Jul. 5 2021, Published 4:45 a.m. ET

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Japan, a nation known for its intense work weeks and incredible work ethic has recently announced something that could change the work schedules the planet over: a four-day workweek. The country has often been noticed for its 6-day workweeks, intensive schooling, and intense ethics for accomplishments, but since many studies have shown shorter workweeks are more effective and better for overall health, Japan has decided to take a look at their “norm” in this regard.

New Guidelines After An Experiment Modeled After Spain

Earlier this year, the Spanish government announced its three-year, nationwide, voluntary 32-hour workweek experiment. The program has been hailed by its proponents as a means for increasing productivity, improving mental health for workers and fighting climate change, emphasized clearly through the well-being needs and burnouts during the pandemic.

Japan joins Spain – and other nations as they’re beginning to discuss their own programs – in the experiment after releasing an annual economic policy guideline including the recommendations that companies permit their staff to opt-in for the four-day workweek instead of five.

While the program isn’t required of all firms in Japan, the government is strongly encouraging employees to opt-in where able, for a healthier work-life balance for individuals who have family-care responsibilities or need to develop skills further through ongoing or new education.

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Why The Four-Day Workweek May Help

Research shows that a four-day workweek results in a number of positives for workers and companies alike.

1. Workers Are Typically More Productive

For anyone trying to convince their own company to take on this program, this incentive may be enough to get the big boss to take notice: four-day workweeks increase productivity for the majority of workers. One example of this was Japan Microsoft reducing workweek hours without pay cuts in August 2019 and discovered a 40% improvement in sales per employee compared to the previous summer.

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2. Applicants Are More Likely To Apply To Well-Paying Jobs With Four-Day Work Weeks

The flexibility of a shorter workweek draws in more applicants than jobs that otherwise might be expected to have grueling, long hours, lots of overtime, and heavy labor.

3. Working Less Is Good For The Environment

For individuals and companies concerned about the environment, working less can actually improve the overall health of the world. As we saw in the early days of the pandemic, with fewer cars on the roads, the air quality in many large cities worldwide was drastically improved.

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4. Flexibility In Your Schedule Provides A Mental Health Break And Better Work-Life Balance

Very few people desire to “live for work.” So, with having three-day weekends on the regular, folks are able to get the much-needed break from work that improves mental health. Three-day weekends also reduce burnout and help individuals find a healthier approach to life with more time spent with family and friends, while also resting and engaging in personal creative projects.

If a four-day workweek sounds like a wonderful change, consider approaching your own company about adopting the policy. With a quick scan of the internet, employers can find many studies and much information on the improvements that can be found through this approach.

If you’re self-employed, you have this option as well, assuming you’re able to conduct your work efficiently during your set work hours. Be sure to find some productivity tools and programs that can help you with this so that you can benefit from a shorter workweek while still paying the bills.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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