California Eyes Four-Day Workweek For Large Businesses – Pros And Cons

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that California has introduced a bill to shorten the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours. Companies with more than 500 employees would be affected by the bill. The bill would essentially keep the workday at 8 hours, but pay overtime for workers who work more than 32 hours per week. If approved, this legislation will affect approximately 2,600 businesses and 3.6 million workers.

Who Doesn’t Like A 3-Day Weekend?

Qualtrics conducted a survey and found that 92% of American workers favor a four-day workweek. This is despite the fact that it may mean working longer hours. Juliet Schor from Boston College was an economist and sociologist who conducted research on the shorter workweek.

The employees reported feeling more relaxed, less stressed, had a better work/life balance and were happier. Companies also saw a decrease in resignations and sick leave and absenteism. They had higher quality applicants and lower healthcare expenses. 

Andrew Barnes, who is the co-founder of the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, said, “…not about work-life balance. This is a very sensible, rational business practice that improves your productivity and profitability by giving your staff more time off.”

4 Day Week Global advocates a 100/80/100 approach. You get 100% productivity, 80% of your time and 100% pay. 

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Do You Think It’s Time to Reveal Yourself?

Congress last looked at Fair Labor Standards Act in 1940. It was then amended to allow for 40 hour work weeks.

An argument can be made that a lot has changed with the workforce since the ’40s. The workplace has been transformed by technological advances, including remote working, cross-country collaboration and software that provides real-time updates to teams located far apart. 

Kronos, Workforce Institute at Kronos revealed that more than half of all full-time workers surveyed believed it would take less than five hours to complete their jobs if they were working uninterrupted.

That’s 2,772 employees surveyed across eight nations.

What is the most common thing that interrupts employees throughout their day? Social engagements and team building events.

Banks Benitez (CEO of Uncharted), who initiated the 4-day workweek in 2020, clearly stated. “There are so many parts of the workweek that are just a waste of time.”

Meetings – A Waste Of Time

As someone who loathes any meeting, I would always be in a heightened state of agitation if I sat through a meeting that could’ve easily been an email.

Many companies do not have the need to host physical meetings when they are able to communicate asynchronously through programs like Basecamp, MS Teams and Slack.

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And as my business guru, Elon Musk, would argue, meetings should be short and only when necessary with the ability to walk out if the meeting doesn’t provide you any substance.

I sometimes daydream about what it would’ve been like to step out of meetings from my past…

I prefer to be alone at work, rather than having to participate in a team building event or another non-mandatory social obligation.

However, some have more extroverted personalities that feed off of that interaction…I am just not one of them. Ryan Breslow was the ex-CEO of Bolt San Francisco, which is a financial technology startup. “Work like a lion, not a cow.”

In total, 38 companies from the U.S.A and Canada participate in the 4 Day Week Global initiative. 

California’s 4-Day Work Week: What Could It Mean?

However, not everyone agrees that a mandatory four-day workweek should be mandated.

The California Chamber of Commerce calls it a “job killer” that would make hiring new employees more expensive and lower employment in the future. It provides for, to help employees avoid potential wage cuts from the reduction in work week. “The compensation rate of pay at 32 hours shall reflect the previous compensation rate of pay at 40 hours.”

It could cost a lot to compensate hourly employees who work overtime.

In addition, a limited workweek could negatively impact customer service, heighten employees’ stress to complete the same amount of work in less time, and negatively impact sick leave and paid time-off accrual. 

While I’m personally all for flexible hours and a shortened workweek, like most things, the government probably wrecks this concept instead of fast-tracking it.

Not every company can operate in a reduced workweek concept, and mandating how it’s done is also not good.

But like most things, the government believes they know best how to manage processes because they’ve shown time and time again proof of that…right?