Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

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Four-Day Workweeks: Are They the Future of the German Economy?

Assembly+line+laborers+working+at+a+BMW+factory+in+Berlin.+Photo+by+Bloomberg+News%0A
Assembly line laborers working at a BMW factory in Berlin. Photo by Bloomberg News

In the past couple of years, Germany, despite its economic prosperity has seen chronic labor shortages. To mitigate this issue, it has sought to increase the productivity of its workforce, which too has seen significant declines recently. A six-month trial across 45 different companies has recently started in which employees receive a four-day work week rather than the conventional five. The hope is that the extra day off will rejuvenate them enough to be more productive in the office. At the same time, the reduction of time spent at work is projected to lessen levels of stress individual workers endure throughout the year, improving mental health overall. This opinion is shared by Jake Bellomy, a Junior at HHS who thinks that despite the shortened amount of time in the office, “A four-day workweek could boost productivity by allowing workers more time to recharge and maintain a better work-life balance.” 

The initiative is led by Intraprenör, a consultancy group in Berlin, in collaboration with 4 Day Week Global, an international organization that seeks to improve work-life balance by shortening the work week. This initiative was spurred by the pair as they observed Germany’s productivity quota (which is calculated by dividing economic output by hours worked) dropped from 105.20 in 2017 to 95.80 in November of 2023. The drop in productivity has also been compounded by the fact that the job market has been staggering for employers. However, with four-day work weeks polling favorably amongst workers and employers alike, advocates hope that the change may attract new employees, mending current labor shortages that have lost Germany over 90 billion Euros. 

Yet, it is still unclear whether the four-day work week may increase workplace productivity overall. By reducing the amount of time workers are required to spend at the workplace, gains in productivity may be thwarted by the new schedule. Similarly, it is not understood whether the initial benefits of implementing a reduced work week will sustain itself eventually or a similar cycle of worker dissatisfaction will reappear. On the other hand, for students, many believe the four-day work week translates efficiently into the traditional school. Grace Owen, a Junior agrees commenting, “Personally, I feel that a four-day work week would be better for productivity as it would allow more time to recover from the often-stressful work week. If this were to be widely adopted, I would hope that Wednesday would be a designated break day as it would give myself and others something to look forward to whilst working, making the remainder of the week seem less daunting.”  

The results of this experiment are still pending and are expected to finish by around fall of 2024. If successful, it is quite likely that many other developed nations may seek a reformed work week as a means for fighting dissatisfaction and a troubling decline in mental health that newer generations of workers have been reporting en masse. 

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