Who doesn’t want longer weekends? Unless you are the boss or one of those lucky people who love their job very, very much. But going beyond your personal preferences and the economic factors involved, recent research suggests that extending your weekend from two days to three might entail some real benefits for the environment as well as the employees.
The idea is to save all the energy and emissions savings that can be done if everyone was spending one less day commuting to and from the office. And of course, an extra day off will also add to the mental health and respite of the workforce.
An experiment conducted in 2007 by the US state of Utah consisted of extending government staff hours on Mondays through Thursdays and cutting off the working day of Friday entirely. And after the first ten months alone, the city administration reported saving US$1.8 million in energy costs.
Though the idea was abandoned in 2011 after some citizens complained about problems caused by closed public offices on Fridays, the experiment’s results demonstrate that there is a lot of potential for this kind of proposition.
Lawyer John Langmai while speaking on the issue said, “If employees are on the road 20 percent less, and office buildings are only powered four days a week, the energy savings and congestion savings would be enormous,”
Economists David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot also further stamped the notion, by publishing their estimates that a four-day week had the capacity to cut US carbon emissions by 3 percent between 1990 and 2002. This would have been enough to let the US meet their reduction targets even before any other climate conservation measures were taken.
And it’s not just the environment that would be the beneficiary of the changes. An experiment conducted in 2015 showed that the Swedish people saw improvement in their health and productivity after this change was implemented in Sweden. The staff was busier, more efficient and spending less time on unnecessary emails and meetings during the working days, while returning well rested and relaxed after the weekend.
Longer working hours have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes in employees; while getting more time to spend with the family and friends has been seen to translate into better work/life balance and a happier staff.
This all sounds very dandy, but there are practical hurdles to be crossed before this proposition can become a reality. Ohio State University’s Public health researcher Allard Dembe warned that increasing the amount of daily work in shorter time spans can lead to burnouts and increase in mental stress of the employees.
And of course, the businesses and enterprises would never like to cut down a whole working day if they saw their profits diminishing by doing so. So to make this a reality, more detailed and dynamic research is needed to determine practical pros and cons of a three-day weekend.
What are your thoughts on the idea of having three days off in a week?