Spain to Trial Four-Day Working Week

In a further indication that the world will not return to normal after lockdown(s), Spain is set to trial reducing its working week to four days in the hope of preventing increases in Covid infections. Sky News has the story.

Spain is planning to use €50 million (£43 million) in EU funds to cut its working week to four days in a bid to prevent further coronavirus outbreaks.

The experiment is set to last for three years and will be funded by money from the European Union’s massive Covid recovery fund.

The money will compensate some 200 mid-size companies as they resize their workforce or reorganise production workflows to adapt to a 32-hour working week.

It will go towards subsidising all of the employers’ extra costs in the first year of the trial and then reduce the government’s aid to 50% and 25% each consecutive year. …

Reducing work hours from 40 to 35 per week in 2017 would have resulted in a 1.5% GDP growth and 560,000 new jobs, a study published earlier this year in the Cambridge Journal of Economics found.

Salaries would have also increased nationally by 3.7%, especially benefiting women who more often take part-time jobs, the research said.

Software Delsol, in southern Spain, invested €400,000 (£343,000) last year to reduce working hours for its 190 employees and has since then reported a 28% reduction in absenteeism, with people choosing to go to the bank or see their doctor on their weekday off.

Their sales increased last year by 20% and no single employee has quit since the new schedule was adopted.

However, the scheme’s critics say a pandemic-shaken economy is not the best scenario for experiments.

Work after the pandemic is likely to be very different from that before 2020. In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about people spending more of their working hours at home. According to the workspace provider IWG (formerly Regus), “hybrid working”, where staff work from home some of the time, will become “the norm”. The BBC has the story.

Working from home some of the time, or hybrid working, will become “the norm” for many companies after the pandemic, says global workspace provider IWG.

Firms will be looking to save money and be more environment-friendly by using less office space, said IWG chief executive Mark Dixon.

IWG said 2020 had been a “challenging” year as fewer firms rented its offices.

But it said it was ready to take advantage of “accelerating demand” for hybrid working.

Sky’s report on Spain’s trial is worth reading in full.

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