In a recent pilot program conducted in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, it was found that a four-day work week significantly improved the health and mental well-being of employees.
As reported by Reuters, the city scheduled local holidays on four consecutive Mondays between April 10 and May 7, affecting 360,000 workers. The move resulted in lower stress levels, improved self-perceived health status, and a higher sense of happiness, mood, and personal satisfaction.
The program wasn’t just beneficial for the workers’ health. It’s also reported that there was a notable drop in vehicle usage on those four Mondays, which led to improved air quality due to reduced nitrogen dioxide emissions. However, it’s worth noting that there was an increase in tobacco and alcohol consumption among some participants.
The extended weekends also allowed more time for personal pursuits like reading, studying, watching films, and delving into hobbies like photography and music. Children, in particular, benefited from the improved work-life balance their parents experienced.
However, the effects on businesses were mixed. While the hospitality and tourism industries saw a surge in customers during the extended weekends, retailers experienced a dip in sales, according to Reuters. Additionally, emergency medical services faced potential overextension due to more healthcare workers taking time off.
The promising outcomes from Valencia’s pilot program suggest that a four-day work week could be a viable solution to promoting worker well-being and environmental health. As the global workforce continues to demand greater flexibility, and as companies and governments prioritize both employee well-being and sustainability, it’s plausible that such initiatives will gain traction in the future.