OAKLAND, Calif. - Because of the pandemic, remote work, once called telecommuting, has become a big part of how people work in California; some doing it full time. That has also revived interest in the four-day work week; something talked and dreamed about for generations.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau found that over 6 percent of working Californians usually worked from home. Today, 45% of Americans work full or part-time from home, on top of those who are self-employed. "The remote work, for those jobs that can be done remotely, has moved quickly and there's no question, it's here to stay," said Michael Bernick, employment lawyer and former Employment Development Department Director.
A file image taken Sept. 9, 2020 show a home office set up, including a laptop computer with Zoom video conferencing software. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Based on mounting real world workplace research, in a Ted Talk on YouTube. Economist Juliet Schor says there's a mounting push for a four-day work week. "The research shows that people are less stressed, value their jobs more, and have better lives outside of work. In most cases, they are as productive in four days as they are in five," said economist Schor.
Mary Elizabeth Elkordy is CEO of Elkordy Global Strategies, a communications and public relations company, whose employees all work remotely, but five day a week, not four. "I think, depending on what your structure of your business is, it could hurt your business because some people work by hours, some people are a service-based industry where human capital and time is their fee." said Elkordy.
If a company must produce 5 days a week to service customers' demands, working only four can reduce their income and clientele or hire more people to pick up the slack. "You have to look at the reality of the impact it's going to have on the people you have to deal with and the stakeholders you have to deal with," said Elkordy.
Elkordy also worries about a productivity just four days a week and said," You know that by Fridays, people kind of check out midday. You know, on Mondays, people run a little slower to get started."
But, consider this. "Employers have been pushing for the past year and a half for employees to come back four or five days a week. It just hasn't happened. And, we've hit a new normal of people coming in two, maybe three days a week, said Bernick.
With the pandemic essentially under control, the employees might desire it, employers may not see the need or benefit of a four-day work week. "Four day work week, despite what the advocates are pushing. I think will be very, very slow to be taken up. But, it won't have the dramatic. Seismic shift that we've seen here with remote work," said Bernick.
Without massive hiring at a time when workers are in short supply, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, and hundreds of other businesses and agencies that need workers 5 to 7 days as week, the four-day week has yet to prove itself.