While we were children, we got used to a school system in which we go to school for six days a week and the holiday is on Friday. After that, the matter developed a little, so school work days became only five, with an extra day off, which may be Thursday or Saturday, which is the system currently in place in most countries The world, whether for study or normal work, as employees also get a maximum of two days off, especially in government jobs, but what about a work system that requires working only four days a week?
Several days ago, Microsoft (1) announced the results of an experiment that included giving employees in its branches in Japan an extra day off so that they work only four days a week, which came to say that the productivity rate increased by about 40% with other additional benefits such as reducing the volume of printed paper by 60 % and a decrease in electricity expenses by 23%, all of this came as an attempt to implement a new program for dealing with employees that tries to balance people’s lives and work (Work-Life Choice Challenge).
This is not the first time that such experiments have taken place, in fact, the system (2) “four days a week” has always been on the discussion tables in many scientific and administrative institutions for several decades, and the main goal of it is – as the Egyptians say – Hitting two birds with one stone, the first is to save operating costs (from electricity, transportation, etc.), and the second is to give additional time to employees in order to pursue hobbies, spend time with family, get more sleep and increase overall morale, which in turn can raise Overall productivity, or at least remaining the same while employees improve, is an important investment as well.
The College of Business Administration at the University of Auckland (4) followed the experiment immediately and evaluated it, and then the results came to say that it was a “completely successful” experiment, and after extending the experiment period to become permanent, Barnes’ company witnessed an increase in productivity, and with the popularity of the experiment, his company witnessed an increase in the number of customers and employees, Help reduce employee fatigue levels and improve work-life balance, while lowering energy and transportation costs.
As for the Republic of The Gambia (5), one of the West African countries, President Yahya Jammeh implemented a government work system in which employees work from Monday to Thursday. The work of that system began in 2013, but his next president, Adam Barrow, changed the system again in the year 2017 employees work 5 days a week, but we have no research indications about the impact of the four-day system on employees’ private lives and productivity.
In fact, the research work that examines the feasibility of this system or not, dates back – despite its rarity – to the seventies of the last century, where some (6) studies indicated that the majority of employees were more satisfied with their lives and work with a reduction in the number of days of the week, the most important In addition, these results were correct every time, regardless of any variables related to race, gender, location, salary, etc., which means that the matter is related to the relationship between a person and his work.
In one of the studies (7) issued by the universities of Florida and California, a sample of 500 employees indicated that about 75% of them preferred the four-day system, for the main reason being to get more free time, while the other group did not prefer this system because the number of working hours became This made them tired and bored in both cases, a long vacation and a long work. In fact, the advantages of working 4 days a week actually come with some drawbacks, as some employees also pointed out problems with being at home, the presence of the husband for a longer period at home may cause a greater chance of marital disputes, as well as other problems related to the difficulty of internationalizing days between employees. .
In addition, another set of studies in the field of education support this trend that a “4 day work” system may be beneficial. For example, a recent study (8) from the universities of Georgia and Montana indicated a clear improvement in the level of students in primary schools in reading and mathematics subjects after schools switched to four school days, compared to another group of students who got five school days. The system is well liked by teachers.
But despite this, the matter is not yet clear and deserves further study, and we cannot – in general – put a solid opinion saying that this system – for work or study – with its two types (8 or 10 hours) is good in all cases, especially with The existence of opposing studies (9), but the main idea that is presented on the discussion table here is related to the need to search for the feasibility of this solution, especially when we know that about 60% of the days of sick abstinence from work, according to a statistic of the British society, for example (10), It was due to fatigue related to the work itself, whether physical or psychological, and we are talking here about the high rates of anxiety and depression due to work pressure.
On the other hand, we now, unlike in the past, know that working long hours a week is harmful on almost every level, and that 40 hours of work per week is better (11) than 55 hours of work, which was once a fiction. In fact, for more than two centuries, humans have been accustomed to thinking that work is not just a very important thing for sustenance, but is as close to a basic virtue as possible, and therefore working longer hours has been in return for courage, virtue, and even the pleasure of God.
But when we look at the history of human work, we will find that we did not start like this. Anthropologists estimate (12) that the ancient human collectors, before the advent of agriculture, worked in search of their food for only four hours a day, and with the advent of agriculture, man needed more hours For the sake of new tasks, then the industrial revolution came and flooded people with work, and with the number of hours reaching more than 15 hours a day, life became – literally – part of the work, and not the other way around.
In his book In Praise of Laziness, the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell says: “I believe that much more is done in the world than should be done, and that there is harm in believing in the virtue of work.” He even extends the line on his integrity, saying: “The belief that Work is a virtue that is the cause of great evils in the modern world.” Money and more work, then Russell does not praise idleness in the understandable sense, but only denounces what we think is normal.
As for Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher in his book Dawn: Reflections on Moral Preconceptions, he attributes the matter – as usual – to fear, and sees that although work from morning to night restrains us, and contributes strongly to impeding the development of our minds, desires and sense of independence, It consumes a huge amount of our energies and prevents us from thinking, meditating, and practicing our nature with all that it bears of anxiety, greed, dream, calm and anger. We are afraid of him, thinking about a lot of things, what we call “freedom”.
In the end, and apart from a lot of theorizing and philosophizing, the reasons for the need to reduce working hours in the contemporary world are available, in Europe the average number of weekly working hours is less than in the United States of America, despite that European productivity, on average, is greater. In addition, the means of communication, and our entry into the era of the digital society, has provided more easy and effective mechanisms to achieve the same productivity in a shorter time, which means that a new work system can actually be better, you might say that it is something “unfamiliar”, but a citizen like you In a country, he said the same thing when someone told him – a century ago – that 12 to 15 hours of work per day is an unnatural thing!
As for the Arab world, we unfortunately do not have a lot of data, but the big problem is that there is a clear deterioration in the rights of employees due to the weakness of the government supervision system on work in many countries, which opens the door to the exploitation of employees, and in a simple survey of the editor of ” Meydan ” many spoke For more than 60 hours a week, and some talked about companies’ demands to work on holidays. The writer of this report had at one time worked – in one of the Arab countries – an 80-hour work week, which is a normal work system for pharmacists in many Arab countries. It comes down to a minimum of 60 working hours.
In any case, the contemporary global system – although it has changed with the presence of the digital situation – is still located in the legacy of the old case exported by the Industrial Revolution. We do not say that four working days a week is an ideal and necessary condition that we must apply now, but we say that there is a need to Meditate on the matter, you should also reflect on the matter, long working hours are not necessarily synonymous with virtue or great gain, and in turn, they may be harmful to your physical and psychological health, so calm down a little and consider things impartially, so that you do not fall into the families of laziness, or the illusion of “virtue work Hard”, then make up your mind.