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Another Good Reason for a Four Day Week

It's not just productivity and work/life balance that improves, says a new report.

The case for the four-day workweek usually centres on employees: When companies have experimented with giving workers every Friday off, unsurprisingly, stress levels drop and job satisfaction improves. Productivity also goes up, partly because companies are forced to become more efficient with time and eliminate pointless meetings.

When Microsoft tested a shorter workweek in Japan, productivity jumped 40 percent even though everyone worked fewer hours. Employees were still paid as normal, as if it was a regular 5 day working week.

Microsoft wasn't the first to highlight the productivity benefits of a four-day workweek. Andrew Barnes, the founder of a New Zealand estate-planning firm, Perpetual Garden, said he conducted a similar experiment and found that it benefited both employees and the company. Before Microsoft conducted its experiment, Perpetual Garden had already adopted the four-day workweek permanently.

But there’s another crucial advantage - the change in schedule can also lower emissions.

A new report from the U.K. says that if the whole country moved to a shorter workweek, it could eliminate as much as 127 million metric tons of emissions, or roughly as much as the pollution from the U.K.’s entire private fleet of cars. Traffic would shrink on roads, and electricity use could fall as offices shut down for a three-day weekend every week.

The Scottish government plans to soon begin a large-scale pilot of the four-day workweek with dozens of companies.

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