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Are Poles afraid of the four-day workweek?

Are Poles afraid of the four-day workweek?

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
06.02.2024 15:45

Bank analysts attempted to gauge workers' concerns about the four-day week through a post on X. The responses leave no room for doubt.

Economists from one of Poland's most prominent banks created a post on X that gained virality on social media. Commenters shared their heated responses, raising potential concerns about the four-day working week.

Bank economists weigh in on four-day workweek

The post that caused a lot of emotional reactions asked: "Imagine a world where we only work four days a week. What concerns you the most?" It also included four related questions:

  • Are you worried that the work that used to be done in five days will not be completed in four?
  • Do you think that having an extra day off will mean you have to spend more money on entertainment and leisure activities?
  • Are you concerned that managing your free time will be difficult and you will feel bored?
  • Do you think it will be hard to synchronise your schedules with your family members who still work a five-day week?
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Aside from negative comments regarding the bank's recent technical issues, there were also responses that directly answered the questions asked. One user using the handle @SmutneHistorie summed up the general tone of these responses by saying, "[I'm afraid] that my employer will be quietly sobbing under his desk as I leave work faster".

Employees to be bored on their three-day weekend?

The commentators deemed the section discussing the "threat of boredom" the most unreasonable. Everyone found it to be an absurd display of "fake concern". One user, @real_cz, commented, "I fear that if I have more free time to pursue my interests, I might not experience professional burnout and won't feel the need to shoot myself."

The people responsible for the initial post were dissatisfied with the reactions of those who commented. They reacted by publishing another detailed post on 6 February. In response to the claims about concerns over boredom, they stated: "We are delighted that everyone has hobbies and utilises their free time efficiently. However, studies have shown that extending leisure time beyond a certain point has adverse effects. Life satisfaction may decrease."

When people inquired about these studies, a link to one was provided. The study was conducted in the US and used data from 2012-2013. It showed that individuals who had seven hours of free time each day and spent that time unproductively (such as scrolling on the internet or watching TV) had worse well-being than those who only had 3.5 hours of free time. However, this negative effect disappeared when the seven hours of free time were utilised for hobbies, meeting loved ones or physical activity.

Many countries adopting four-day workweek

A growing body of research highlights the benefits of a four-day workweek. In the UK, a pilot program was conducted, and after six months, 62% of the participating companies decided to extend the trial period. After such a short time, 30% of the companies were determined to adopt the four-day workweek as a permanent arrangement.

In Australia, research indicates that a three-day weekend is more beneficial to our mental health than a two-day weekend. Belgium introduced a voluntary four-day workweek in 2022, while Germans work an average of 34.2 hours per week. A pilot program to reduce the workweek to four days instead of five has also recently been launched in Germany.

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The four-day workweek is being tested in many places around the world, both as part of government programs and as a grassroots initiative by employers who understand that well-rested and less-tired employees are more productive. In Poland, Herbapol and other companies plan to introduce it.

Some people seem to forget that the five-day working week is not a natural occurrence but rather a provision in the Labor Code that can be modified at will. It is worth noting that free Saturdays only came into effect in Poland in 1985.

If social media existed back then, opponents of social progress would likely have voiced their concerns on the issue as vigorously as they do today. Journalist Karol Wojnarowski commented on the original post by bank economists, saying, "I am afraid that the view presented here is expressed by the majority of MPs in the Sejm, which does not realistically translate into the expectations of society."

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