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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12, @08:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Panasonic is introducing an optional four-day work week:

Panasonic is reportedly introducing an optional four-day work week for employees, allowing its workers to spend less time working and more time actually enjoying being alive. It's one more small push toward a better world where shorter working weeks are the norm.

Announced during an investor briefing on Friday, Panasonic will offer its workers a third day off per week, with Panasonic CEO Kusumi Yuki noting they may opt to further their studies, volunteer, or even work a side job. Last year, Japan's annual economic policy guidelines revealed the country would encourage employers to adopt four-day work weeks.

"We must support the wellbeing of our employees," said Kusumi, as reported by Nikkei Asia.

Hoping to facilitate better work-life balance in its workforce, the electronics manufacturer is also increasing flexibility by allowing more employees to work from home, and giving them the freedom to turn down job transfers that require them to move. It isn't clear whether these new policies will apply to all employees globally, nor whether hours or compensation will be adjusted to offset workers' reduced days.

Would you prefer a 4 day working week?


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:32PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @08:32PM (#1212203)

    At this point in my life I'd be on board with 4 x 10's rather than 5 x 8's. I don't think I would notice the two extra hours a day, especially since they would bump me more out of the prime commuting hours resulting in shorter commute times. So I don't think the two extra hours ends up being two extra hours to me, perhaps more like an extra hour and a half. If it was a choice between 5 x 8's or 4 x 10's, but being compensated at 4/5th of my salary, I'd have to think about it. Ten years ago I wouldn't want to trade the pay cut for the extra day, but it might be much more appealing now (I'm in the latter stages of my working career).

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NateMich on Wednesday January 12, @11:37PM

      by NateMich (6662) on Wednesday January 12, @11:37PM (#1212245)

      I don't think I would notice the two extra hours a day

      I used to think that. I was wrong.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by srobert on Thursday January 13, @01:49AM (1 child)

      by srobert (4803) on Thursday January 13, @01:49AM (#1212281)

      I'm working 4-10's now. Have been for years. We should have been on a much shorter work week many years ago, according to early 20th century economists, but I still like it better than 5-8's.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:31PM (#1212492)

        Plus it's less driving to and from work, less preparation time to start and end tasks.

        I think there are studies that show it takes time to start a task before you begin getting efficient at it and then it probably takes time to finish/close it off for a period until the next iteration. Perhaps working longer on a task fewer times saves time by reducing that inefficient pre and post buffering time or the amount of times you have to pre and post buffer.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @07:28PM (#1212490)

      but they have to be three consecutive days off ...

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Freeman on Wednesday January 12, @08:58PM (12 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Wednesday January 12, @08:58PM (#1212208) Journal

    While it may not seem like it, those extra two hours of work, each day, really make those days long. Part of the reason that Nurses have high burn-out rate is due to their schedules, which admittedly are usually more nuts than just a 4x10 work week.

    4 days of work, with same compensation and 8 hours a day, sign me up.

    --
    Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Thexalon on Wednesday January 12, @09:08PM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday January 12, @09:08PM (#1212210)

      Another factor here is whether those 8's or 10's are really 8's or 10's. Because I know back when I worked what was allegedly 5 x 8, it was actually more like 5 x 9 or 5 x 10, or worse.

      Then again, my mistake for being salaried. Or maybe Ted Kennedy's mistake for slipping in a "no overtime for computer professionals" provision into the 1996 minimum wage increase.

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DavePolaschek on Thursday January 13, @01:12PM (1 child)

        by DavePolaschek (6129) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @01:12PM (#1212394) Homepage Journal

        Ditto. Before I retired, work was often 5 ten (or twelve) hour days. If working 4 tens had been available, I might still be working (though with COVID out there, being retired has meant we can just hunker down at home and avoid getting infected, which is nice). But yes, ten hour days are long. Frequently I would show up prepare for an early meeting (because coworkers in India), have that meeting, then fuck around for a couple hours before co-workers in California showed up for the day. And then I’d have to stick around for a meeting with the California people at the end of their day (I was located in MN, so waiting for a meeting that began at 5pm California time was especially brutal).

        Towards the end, when I was interacting more with people in India (training my replacements), and only managers in CA, I just stopped attending the late meetings and it made a huge difference. But it was too late and I was mentally on my way out the door already at that point; no way I wasn’t going to retire / quit. And I had proposed working 4 days and had my immediate manager’s support on that, but those farther up the chain decided they would rather have zero days from me than allowing me to work four days per week, possibly showing other people that a less punitive schedule was possible.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @03:20PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @03:20PM (#1212425)

          The punitive part was expecting you to do those India AND California meetings.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @09:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @09:12PM (#1212212)

      The old accelerated schedule in some companies was 9 hour days, every other Friday off. This sounds much more reasonable than working 10 hr days. Be honest: can you stay mentally sharp for 10 hours every single day you work? Could you have any time left for kids with that schedule?

    • (Score: 5, Touché) by fustakrakich on Wednesday January 12, @09:34PM (1 child)

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday January 12, @09:34PM (#1212220) Journal

      6 hours is optimum.. 4x6 with no cut in pay. That will help us catch up with 40 years of inflation

      --
      Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by arslan on Thursday January 13, @12:22AM

        by arslan (3462) on Thursday January 13, @12:22AM (#1212256)

        Exactly this. Time to normalize the pay-to-work ratio, if pay isn't increasing as workload is over the years, then time to reduce the workload.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @09:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @09:48PM (#1212223)

      I did 4x10 on evening shifts once, from 2pm to 00:30am (or something like that, perhaps 1:30 - 12, half an hour lunch break). It worked there, because the evenings were used up anyway so staying the 2 hours more wasn't that bad and it was physical work. I think it was alternative weeks of day and evening shifts.

      Now i do a lot of office work and it's 5x7,5h. Couldn't do 5x8h at the office. I don't like sitting at the office for too long and it's been a year and a half of that, with couple small exceptions to a customer i don't like.

      4x7,5h with same pay would probably help a lot with me, but i am not doing 4x10 or 4x7,5h for less money. 4x8h with same pay might work, it'd be 5,5h reduction, but i wouldn't have to go in for 3 days.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday January 12, @11:09PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday January 12, @11:09PM (#1212237)

      Hey, I'd be happy with 2x10, Wednesday off, then 2x10. 2x12, even. That might be kind of relaxing, even.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by darkfeline on Thursday January 13, @01:15AM (1 child)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Thursday January 13, @01:15AM (#1212268) Homepage

      You're not getting 8 hours of work done in a day, let alone 10.

      For physical labor, you might be able to do it if the work is light and with sufficient breaks (e.g., putting screws in on a factory line). I'm talking about a sustainable work schedule of course, you can do 24 hour days of physical labor and die early.

      For thinking work, forget about it. You're going to average 3-4 hours a day (6 if you're in the 1%) and the rest will be spent either in meetings or staring at a screen not getting any real work done.

      Mental energy is the limiting factor, not time.

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @04:39AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @04:39AM (#1212327) Journal

        You're not getting 8 hours of work done in a day, let alone 10.

        Being there work is another example. That's a big part of my job at the end of the shift.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @01:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @01:30AM (#1212271)

      Yeah, there's not really enough detail here to say how they're actually doing it. Four 8 hour days would be great, but they'd probably demand a 20% pay cut. I've worked as a NOC monkey, and had a couple odd shifts. 5th was three twelve hour night shifts, and 4th was two eight hour and two twelve hour (the latter on the weekend) day shifts. Having an extra day off, especially during the week, is really helpful, since you can go do things at shops when they aren't super busy. Those twelve hour shifts can be killer though, even when you're just monitoring things. If you're doing serious intellectual work I can't see that being a good deal. Even the usual eight hour shift has a lot of non-productive time in it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:01PM (#1212503)

      It really depends what the job is, I used to work 3*12 and that wasn't so bad. Occasionally, there would be a 14 or 16 in there if somebody called it, but that wasn't so bad either.

  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday January 12, @09:12PM (3 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday January 12, @09:12PM (#1212214)

    I prefer the one day work week where I cram 40h worth of work into an afternoon but still get paid for full thing. If only I could remove all the meetings, stupid interactions with others etc work would be so much better.

    But if the goal is just to cram more hours into fewer days then why not just work for say two or three days and do nothing but work and sleep? I really don't see quality being maintained on those 10h plus shifts. That extra day you think you managed to free up by doing this is then just probably going to be wasted on resting. Perhaps you'll get used to it eventually but I just don't really see the benefit for me in this work equation.

    That said there is also the question of how much of the 8h workday (or 40h week) is actually work? I don't think I work the entire 8h non stop ever. But then I guess I do work but that is not the same as fingers moving across the keyboard all the time etc. What looks like slacking off might actually be deep thinking, hopefully about work. If all things that wasn't essential for my job could be cut I think the workday could probably take a 20-50% cut, but there is very little incentive to do so if my pay goes down with it. Better to keep up the charade in that regard and play office the rest of the time.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Wednesday January 12, @09:21PM

      by Freeman (732) on Wednesday January 12, @09:21PM (#1212217) Journal

      Nurses schedules are crazy and they generally deal with a lot more stress than the average office worker. Sure, they may only work 3 or 4 days a week, but at least 1 to 2 of those days is recuperation and/or preparation for the next slog of a work week.

      --
      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @10:31PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @10:31PM (#1212232)

      From the link,

      The four-day work week is an ephemeral dream that has long been dangled before workers like an oasis in a desert. In 2021, Iceland reported that the world's largest trial of a shorter work week saw significant gains in workers' happiness, health, and productivity. Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day work week to great success in 2019, boosting productivity by almost 40 percent. And New Zealand firm Perpetual Guardian permanently switched to a four-day work week in 2018, after a two-month trial saw a 20 percent boost in productivity.

      Reduced work days have been tested and retested all over the world for years, and the results have consistently shown positive results. Yet despite overwhelming evidence of its benefits for employees and employers alike, the shorter work week remains largely elusive. Companies continue to drag their feet, claiming it isn't feasible, they're a special case, and that it just wouldn't work if applied to their particular industry.

      I wonder if these productivity increases last, or if the effect is short term (months or a year)? Years ago I read about the results of various efficiency studies in different work environments and the results were almost always more productivity--independent of whatever changes were made to the work schedule or other aspects of the working environment. The eventual conclusion was that the employees reacted to being studied and upped their output for awhile. Back then this might have been observers walking around the factory with clipboards, iirc, a guy named Taylor was one of the better known efficiency experts.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @09:35AM (#1212376)

    I'm on the 12hr DuPont shift.
    While 4 day week and occasional whole week off is nice. It's still pretty brutal.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @11:15AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @11:15AM (#1212386)

    6 hours/5 days would align better with school schedules, and six hours is closer to what white collar workers can maintain concentration for anyway. It would also mean that lunch breaks would become somewhat optional, which would probably also improve productivity and probably health as well.

    For blue collar workers, I'm not sure what would be better. Both fewer days and shorter ones seem like they would help with injuries resulting from physical stress. Injuries are more likely to occur either very early in the morning or late in the day. I'm not sure if this is because of fatigue, in which case shorter days would be better, or because of complexities resulting from startup and shutdown or shift change, in which case longer days would be better. There are also issues around jobs where you need protective gear or have to travel to a job site and shortening the day would increase the proportion of time spent on this sort of unproductive work.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, @08:03PM (#1212506)

      6 hours goes evenly into 24, so it's more natural for factories and shift work.

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