[Meanwhile] Transition to ‘Thank God It’s Thursday’

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[Meanwhile] Transition to ‘Thank God It’s Thursday’

The author is the head of the global cooperation team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Workers in the English-speaking world often shout ahead of the weekend, “TGIF! Thank God It’s Friday.” Friday is the exciting day that deserves expressing gratitude to God. We are already familiar with the phrase, but there are signs around the world that it may change to TGIT! (“Thank God It’s Thursday!”)

In recent years, the four-day workweek has been gradually promoted in various industries, including finance, restaurant and medical services, not only in the U.S. but also in Australia, Ireland, and Spain. After reducing working hours from 40 to 32 hours a week and maintaining wages, productivity improved in most cases.

A four-day workweek pilot project is underway in Britain, whose labor productivity is known to be about 20 percent lower than that of the U.S. Seventy-three companies have introduced a pilot 32-hour workweek without pay cuts since June. In the interim survey results, the word “lovely” frequently appears, an expression British people like to use when they are satisfied. Eighty-six percent of the participating employers responded that they would keep the system even after the pilot period ends.

New Zealand’s non-profit organization, Four Day Week Global, undertook the entire process of the project, partnering with Cambridge University and Boston College. According to their analysis, the stress level of employees at the participating companies decreased, which significantly influences productivity and creativity, ultimately leading to overall positive outcomes. On a side note, carbon emission reduction can also be expected. Participants also saved an average of 270 pounds ($332) a month in transportation expenses. The final results of the project will be announced in February 2023.

The five-day workweek is taken for granted now, but there were concerns when it was first introduced in the West. It was a breakthrough idea proposed by Henry Ford 96 years ago. When everyone else worked six days, he declared the world’s first five-day workweek. The businessman thought people would buy more consumer goods, including automobiles, when they had more free time.

Whatever the reason, our society has continued to evolve through one process or another. Each time you encounter a change, you face countless complex resistant variables and conditions. Nevertheless, one fact we cannot ignore is that we are now at the threshold of another change.
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