The four-day week is starting to move from fantasy to the mainstream: Unilever, the massive corporation that owns brands such as Dove and Ben and Jerry’s, is now testing a shorter workweek with employees in New Zealand, who will be paid for five days while working four. Microsoft ran a similar pilot in Japan in 2019, giving employees Fridays off, and saw productivity grow by 40% despite the fact that workers spent less time in the office. Now, the Spanish government is considering a proposal that would incentivize companies across the country to shorten working hours without a cut in pay.
“Now that we have to rebuild our economy, Spain has the perfect opportunity to go for the four-day or 32-hour week,” Íñigo Errejón, a politician from Spain’s Más País party, told the Independent. The Más País party wants the government to run a pilot giving grants to companies that test the idea. “It is a policy for the future that allows for an increase in the productivity of workers, improvements to physical and mental health, and reduces our impact on the environment,” Errejón said. “We must put ourselves at the forefront of Europe as we did 100 years ago with the shift to an eight-hour working day.” In Barcelona, a draft regional budget has a similar proposal.