There are companies in Portugal that already allow employees to work four days a week, but no worker has ever asked to take advantage of this modality, which implies a salary adjustment. And this year, other companies decided to test the model during the month of August, without changing salaries, and although the experiences went well and are to be repeated, none of them thinks, in assuming, to assume the formula 12 months a year.
This is the case of the technology company feedzai, who explained to TVI24 the reason for the experience.
“We have a CEO who is always pushing people to try new and different things, to be innovative and to think differently. We were talking about work-life balance and how we could improve that balance. That was one of the ideas I suggested and he replied, ‘of course, let’s give it a try’. I had read about the subject, which in Iceland was already practiced and other companies were also experimenting and deciding to try ”, says Dalia Turner, vice president with Human Resources at Feedzai.
The first country to bet on this model was the Iceland. Before, the country’s government tested the model for four years – between 2015 and 2019 – and concluded that there was no loss of productivity, workers felt less stress and the level of well-being increased. Currently, around 86% of the working population in Iceland already works fewer hours. And none were reduced. But other countries want to follow suit, like New Zealand, Spain or Japan.
In New Zealand, for example, a company, a Perpetual Guardian, implemented this modality in 2018, maintaining salaries. And he didn’t go back on the decision. Others followed, but not most. In 2020, after closing the country’s borders, the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, addressed the issue and proposed to employers consider a reduced workweek as a way to boost internal tourism and help workers to find a new balance between work and personal life.
Already in SpainLast March, the leftist party Más País presented a proposal in this regard and the Ministry of Labor decided to study a possibility. According to the newspaper The Guardian, the Government accepted a proposal and will have agreed to launch a pilot project for the companies revealed in the idea. But no date was set.
Also in June this year, the government of Japan revealed plans to advance the four-day work week. The executive claims that this way employees can invest in their education, spend more time with their family, get a second job or go out and spend money. In 2019, Microsoft, Japan, tested a four-day workweek during the month of August and, according to data revealed by the company, known as the Washington Post, not only productivity increased by 40%, but also costs in electricity and paper consumption were reduced.
And in Portugal? This year, in August, at least two companies have tested the formula and they are companies that assume they are looking for a balance between work and family life, trying to respond to the needs of their employees.
“In August, we had an experience that was the four-day workweek”, tells TVI24 Irene Rua, from the consultant Doutor Finances, related that the experience will be repeated “Without being an atypical month and with so many specifics”, like the one in August. On the basis of the decision, a reason: “Seek that people have an effective balance between personal, professional and family life”.
Even considering that it is still early for a quantitative balance, Irene Rua has no doubts about the positive impact: “The people you know are happy with this measure”. In the month the model was tested, there was no salary adjustment for employees. And consider that “In operational terms, the results will not be very different from what had been envisioned”.
Before the experience, a Finance Doctor already allows and continues to allow “The adjustment of hours, with the adjustment of income”, still, “No one has ever activated the possibility of reduced hours”.
Feedzai, which also applied the model in August, will repeat the experiment next year, but admits some differences.
One of the rules implemented was that it had to be the same day they took, during the four weeks of the month of August ”, explains Dalia Turner. “We still have time to think about it, but one of the things you might do is allow people to take a different day off from everyone like August weeks, which is for the best for them. This is an example of how it can change, but there are no definitive decisions yet ”, assumes a responsible. And just like this year, the pay will be equal.
As to whether this could ever be a working model in place, Dalia Turner seems a little more skeptical: “I’m not saying no, but I think to be really successful it’s going to take a number of different companies in the ecosystem to do it as well. A single company to do this will be too much of a challenge ”.
At New Work Portugal, linked to a German company, which offers work-life balance and balance solutions for companies, the possibility of working four days a week has been a reality for a few years.
“If our mission is for a better working world, we try to study practices and, above all, communicate about these trends”, says to TVI24 Miguel Garcia, general director of the consultancy in Portugal. But not only: “We try things”.
“I’ve been at New Work for 4 years and we already had this possibility. People can reduce their working hours, namely one day a week, with a corresponding wage reduction, ie around 20% ”, explains.
Interestingly, the model was abandoned a few months later: “Either because it didn’t work, or because it was something transitory, that you choose felt height, but then it was no longer justified” says Miguel Garcia. But it highlights, highlights this responsible, in which “People’s performance justified a salary increase, which would often hit the same amount as it had before”.
As in Doutor Finances, also in Nova Obra Portugal the model did not gain adherents.
“In Portugal, there was never any case of a person who wanted to adhere to this four-day model, but in Germany there were still plenty of people to try and still continue today”, assumes Miguel Garcia.
About the reason for this lack of interest, some hypotheses are put: “We’ve already thought about it several times. The main reason that seems to us has to do with the age group ” and the function in the company, such as the engineering area. Whether in Portugal or abroad. “Comparing, the same age group and the same function, in Germany, we will have the same thing”, he adds.
Other areas, “Like sales, marketing or human resources and slightly older age groups”, already looking for this model. But there is also a cultural weight: “From a cultural point of view, we are a country where this type of practice has no tradition, where there is still a lot of prejudice ”, admit it.