I propose that we implement a four day work week over the conventional five day work week. 1938 was the year that the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed. This act stated that there was a need for a standardized work week and that the new standard workweek was to be eight hour days, five days a week. There need for this act stemmed from employers taking advantage of their employees and working them to many hours a day and to many days a week. The basis for the eight-hour workday was really on nothing other than an idea that a twenty-four-hour day divided into three assumed eight-hour segments sounded logical. One eight hour segment was for sleep, the second for work, and the third for recreational time. As for the idea of working five day work weeks with a two day weekend, who knows? There are a lot of reasons for switching to a 4 day work week. All of these reasons promote the better well-being of the government and economy, the businesses involved, and the individuals themselves. There would be less traffic on the roads.
You could assume that with a third day off that more people would opt to stay home that day, or that if people went out it would not be in rush hour traffic at least. With less traffic, the pollutants that cars emit into the air would be lessened, which is also good for keeping tree-hugging hippies off our backs. The fewer cars driving throughout the week would also help keep down the amount of road work that would need to be done. Paying for the labor, materials, and equipment necessary to maintain roadways is very expensive, and quite a lot of money could be saved if there were fewer cars out of terrorizing road surfaces. With less traffic and fewer people driving throughout the week it is predicted that the number of auto accidents would decrease. This would inevitably lower insurance rates, both auto and medical, which would be more money in your pocket. Probably the most important and monetarily valuable reason, as far as cars and travel are concerned, is the money that would be saved on oil and fuel consumption. Not just for individuals but for the American economy also as calculated: There are about 133 million workers in America. Around 80% of them get to work by driving alone in a car. The average commute covers about 16 miles each way.
So let’s stop and do some math: 133,000,000 workers X 80% who drive alone = 106,400,000 single driver commuter cars each day. 106,400,000.
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X 32 miles round trip = 3,404,800,000 miles driven to work each day 3,404,800,000.21 mpg (average fuel efficiency) = 162,133,333 gallons of gasoline each day.
Each barrel of crude oil produces, on average, 19. 5 gallons of gas. (It is important to note that other products like kerosene and asphalt are produced from that same barrel) 162,133,333/19. 5 = 8,314,530 barrels of oil each day. What this shows is the impact a 4 day work week could have on crude oil imports. I’m talking about a 40% reduction in the amount of oil we need Monday through Friday simply by rearranging our work week. The implementation of the four day work week would also have some healthy side effects in the workplace. Fewer people would take off work. By having a 4 day work week it could mean less absenteeism. The long weekend could mean less faux sick days on Mondays, it can also mean an extra day of rest if an employee is in fact falling ill. The overall pros for a 4 day work week reflect lower turnover, and a happier, less stressed workforce. With a three day weekend, you would have almost an equal amount of days off as spent at work. With such a system in place, people would be much happier. It would be better for the individuals as this would lower stress from their jobs, and better for the companies because content workers are better for business. An individual who is happier will be more productive at work.
“As a result of the alternative schedule, researchers found that 60 percent of employees reported higher productivity, and 60 percent of residents reported improved citizen access. In terms of employee morale, there seems to be a very strong benefit,’ Facer said”. This would also lower the employee turnover rate. People who are happy with their jobs do not quit them. These companies would not only make more money because of the increased productivity from happier employees but from the money that would be saved not having to pay for the cost of operation for five days. If businesses were only open four days a week then that would be one day that the lights, heat, and computers would not have to be turned on. The money made, and saved, by these businesses could e put back into the companies to help keep employees even happier. Some of the things they could provide with said money are better benefits, such as retirement plans and health insurance, a more comfortable work environment, or even have things like at work childcare like some of the Japanese have done. Christopher Byron states in Time Magazine, “Though the way Japan manages its affairs is, in many respects, the unique outgrowth of the country’s historical experience, certain of its lessons can be applied in industrial economies everywhere, and particularly in the U.S”. For companies needing to be open six or seven days a week, they could have an overlapping schedule. An example of this would be Joe working Monday through Thursday, Sally working Wednesday through Saturday, and Eduardo Philippe Jr. working Friday through Monday. This overlapping schedule would allow for businesses to remain open up to seven days a week if needed while still allowing a four day work week for employees. Other businesses that do not follow the standard “nine to five” workweek such as restaurants, would continue to run as they normally do.
With a three day weekend, people would have more personal time. This time could be used to run errands that could not normally be done due to being at work. They could use this time to spend with their families. Keeping their kids out of daycare for that day they are not working could save them money. If they disliked their offspring, they could use a probably well-deserved break from the little terrorists. This time could be spent doing chores around the house, or just lounging around getting fat. In 2008 Utah implemented a four day work week for eight-teen thousand of its employees. They saw an increase in employee happiness as well as productivity as noted in Inc. : Two years ago, the state of Utah ordered 18,000 of its state employees to work four days a week, 10 hours a day, and to take Fridays off. More than three-quarters of employees reported a positive experience a year into this '4/10' program, according to a study by Brigham Young University management professors Rex Facer and Lori Wadsworth. They observed fewer sick days, reduced overtime costs, and savings on energy bills. Employees experienced fewer conflicts between work and family commitments, so their morale shot up.
And they knew they only had four days instead of five to get their work done, so they became more productive. We too could have this four day work week implemented. The first thing to do if you think this could be beneficial to your company is to see if your co-workers are on board with the idea. If so then the next step might be to see how this would align with your customers’ needs. Then you could devise a plan that would explain the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a four day work week, as to answer any potential questions your boss might have. You could write congress. Enough interest shown in changing the arbitrary standard workweek could turn the heads of the government that makes these decisions. The last reason, which I saved for the end, even though out of place, is that a four day work week would be badass. Who doesn’t want to have a three day weekend? I think Americans are tired of running themselves ragged every week just to get two days to recover in this flawed system. I say we implement the four day work week so that we can quit living to work, and start working to live.
- Byron, Christopher. How Japan Does It. ” Time Magazine. 30 Mar. 1981. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
- Magas, Glenn. “Pros and cons of the four-day workweek. ” Helium. 2010. Web. 4 Dec. 2010.
- http://www. helium. com/items/1676495-pros-and-cons-of-the-four-day-workweek>
- Newton, Aaron. “The 4 Day Work Week. ” GroovyGreen. 20 Sep. 2007. Web. 3 Dec. 2010. <http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/? p=2223> Peterson, Janice. “Study finds four days of work week optimal. ” DailyHerald. 9 Jun. 2008.
- Web. 4 Dec. 2010. Vanden Bos, Peter. “How To Implement A Four-Day Work Week. ” Inc. 7 Apr. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2010.
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