A 4-day week with 100% wages has become a reality for some small businesses in Switzerland, RTS reports.
Andreas Ott, owner of a small graphics studio in the canton of Aargau, tells the story SonntagsZeitung that its customers had not reported any problems with employees taking Friday vacations. Ott introduced the concept a few years ago before becoming a father. Since then, the office has been closed on Fridays. He says the shorter week reduced sales, but not by 20%.
Several Swiss trade unions are behind the concept. However, Gudela Grote, psychology professor at the ETHZ in Zurich, is less convinced of four-day weeks. She thinks what works for small businesses might not work as well for large ones. If large companies switched from 5 to 4-day weeks, it could increase stress and lead to significant overtime, she believes.
There are other challenges too. A 4-day week might work in sectors where short bursts of creative output can do more than long hours of hard work. It could also work where employees spend long unproductive hours at work while fewer more productive hours would provide a similar performance. This could be the case in companies with a culture of unmotivated presenteeism. However, in these cases, a change in corporate culture could bring more.
However, industries where there is little or no room for higher productivity could end up with 20% less output for the same labor costs. For example, a truck driver delivers less if he takes an extra day off. And if receptionists leave reception areas empty or call center agents take a weekday off, customers would notice and revenue could suffer.
A 4-day week with 80% wages would resolve the economic contradiction. 4 days of truck driving for 4 days of pay come out with the same daily rate and the same output. The company could then hire a few more people to fill in the gaps. But how many employees would choose to do this? And those who might have already done so.
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