The future of work: Is a 4-day workweek achievable?

The 4 day workweek
Will the future of full-time work include a flexible schedule and a shorter workweek? A majority of recently surveyed U.S. employees said a four-day workweek would help with their mental health and productivity.
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Working 40 hours a week is a staple in American work culture.  

It’s been this way since 1940 when the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended, establishing a 40-hour workweek. This was a win for the labor movement in the United States, which had fought for years against long hours and exploitation after the start of the Industrial Revolution.  

It’s been over 80 years since workers have seen a reduction in the mandatory hours they contribute to their workplace, and not much progress has been made in shaving down the 9-to-5 work schedule.

Still, the pandemic forced us to rethink our work-life balance, and a handful of companies are experimenting with a four-day, 32-hour workweek. Research looking at more than 70 companies in the U.K. found no loss in productivity with employees working 20 percent fewer hours.  

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Would a shorter workweek improve workers’ quality of life? Could companies cut employee’s hours without changing wages? MPR News host Angela Davis talks about work-life balance and the challenges behind the four-day workweek.


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Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.