The Future of Work Capsules:  Would 32-hour work week be the standard future work week?

Season’s Greetings to you all
Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)
  • …Is Will working fewer hours increase productivity?

Season’s Greetings to you all.

The rapidly changing future of standard work week and the new normal 32 hour propose work week schedule is fast approaching and gaining grounds. The big question is, will working fewer hours increase productivity? Thinking work life balance and flexibility this New Year. I have some ideas for you. For the future, work will be something we do and not a physical location we report to. Truly, the future of work is rapidly changing and this change is happening right across the globe. Are you prepared for the change?

Do you really know what time it is in history? Are you aware of where the world is heading? Things may not change back to normal be agile. This new odd normal is becoming the order of the day and you must be aware and prepare for this change. As a business entity, you may be working within a space where you cannot control every outcome both the external and the internal factors. You may make efforts to manage the internal which could be within your reach. Understanding the times and seasons we are in will support your business idea and model to effectively operate at optimal levels and be sustainable despite the changing times.

We have been long welcomed to this new normal unknowingly. The covid-19 pandemic only re-enforced certain stance. Reason the Covid pandemic is offering global economies what quick adjustment can be made to the future of work. To some it’s the odd new normal whiles to other, it’s the exciting new normal. May you find some time during this holiday festivity to think and reflect on few things. Do you really know what time it is? Where are we in history? Would things ever change for the best or worse? Are we all prepared for the change? Understanding the times and season will lead you a step further to taking the right decisions and prepare for the unknown future.

I believe in an able God who is always more than able to take care of my todays and the future because He holds and owns the future. Be encouraged to know that what God cannot do does not exit. Entrust your unknown future to the known God. He will do you and your business good.

Are you still working the standard 5 days’ work week which is the 40-hour work week of an eight (8) hour schedule daily? The news is that, 32 work week is quickly gaining popularity as the 4 days’ work week is becoming the standard work week effective 2022 per research. Aside the change in hours been reduced from 40 –hours to 32 hours for most, the weekend for other countries is equally changing.

Around the world, workweeks can range from under 40 hours to close to 50 hours. Workplace laws and conventions in other countries vary. Those with workplace laws and conventions that are more favorable towards workers have shorter workweeks and more vacation time. These countries also have better overtime compensation, more regulation, and more favorable parental leave laws. Leisure and work-life balance are a priority in these countries. These nations are among the worlds happiest. On the other hand, those countries with longer workweeks tend to have lower life satisfaction.

In the past 18 months the working lives of millions of people have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Remote employment has become the norm for many while a number of companies are now moving towards a hybrid system where staff split their time between the office and home.  The “traditional” five-day working week – a 8:00 am-5:00 pm Monday to Friday routine – has become more flexible with the advancement of technology and the global outlook of the economy. However, the impact of the pandemic has already seen “changes to work patterns” and there is “growing support” from governments to introduce a four-day working week.

The summary of the 32-hour week schedule legislation has it that, number of hours a person can work will not be limited however; employees will begin to earn time and a half after 32 hours of work. This will result in a 10% pay increase for now. As a business you will either have to pay your employees additional overtime or find other workers that will fill up the gaps. As labour markets become more competitive workers will feel empowered to enable to demand better working conditions at higher wages.

According to BBCNews, “It is an essentially political commitment, to attempt to massage labour market institutions towards a considerable reduction in the hours worked in the average working week over a decade”

For United Arab Emirates

According to the Arabian Business Report, “The UAE is the “first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week”, which the state news agency WAM reported. From 1 January 2022 the government entities and employees will work from 7.30am-3.30pm Monday to Thursday and Friday will be a half day, from 7.30am to midday.

It’s not just the working hours that are changing in the UAE but also the weekend itself. The country will switch from a Friday-Saturday weekend to Saturday-Sunday to “better align the UAE with global markets” and to “boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing”.

While the change will be implemented for the public sector, the UAE’s private sector is “unlikely” to adopt a four-and-a-half-day working week currently.

For Europe, America and Asia

According to data published by the European Commission, the EU average usual working week was 37 hours in 2020. Work hours vary from region to region, but some European countries have looked at the possibility of introducing a four-day working week.

From 2015 to 2019 Iceland conducted the world’s largest pilot of the four-day working week. Cutting down from the traditional 40 hours to 35-36 hours, it was dubbed a “success” by researchers, German broadcaster DW reported.

According to, Sweden tried a six-hour workday and “productivity improved”. And Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has also suggested a four-day working week or six-hour days.  In March, Spain announced it would try the four-day working week. For the United Kingdom the big issue reported of calls for a 4-day working week which will boost workers and the planet, as the planet has grown louder since the Covid-19 pandemic forcing greater flexibility on most.

The future of work is rapidly changing. Today, millions of Americans are enjoying flexible work because of the pandemic – and when it finally ends, they will want more, not less freedom the BBC reported. These workers are ready for a new normal and that’s exactly what a 32 – hour work week can provide

Pilot programs run by governments and businesses in countries such as Iceland, New Zealand, Spain and Japan have experimented with a four –day work week and reported very promising results. There is a growing debate that highlights that our economy is composed not only of the white-collar workers and people from all backgrounds should benefit from the changing status quo. As you are aware, the pandemic has left millions of hourly workers unemployed or underemployed.

According to pilot studies, workers reported anywhere from a 25% to 40% increase in productivity, as well as an improved work/life balance, less need to take sick days, more time to spend with family and children, less money spent on childcare, and a more flexible working schedule which leads to better morale. This is a global paradigm shift that will bring into question everything we thought we knew about the workplace.

A 32-hour workweek won’t work for every business, but it has been wildly successful in some cases depending on your business model and nature of business and industry. Whether it’s a good idea or not will greatly depends on many factors, including what you consider to be a good value for your money, business model, nature of business and industry you operate in.

Thinking work life balances this New Year. Here are some ideas for your business to consider. There are plenty of ways to increase flexibility in your office. Refer to my earlier publication on flexibility as soft skills for the future for more information. An alternate work schedule that allows flextime and compressed workweeks for employees that are strong candidates for a non-traditional schedule could exist as put forward by the University of California.

They define a compressed workweek as either where we experiment the 4/10 schedule: In this schedule employee’s work four, (10) hour days per week. This schedule is simpler to administer as you will have a standard workweek and hours.

Then the 9/80 schedule: proposes a schedule where employees work 80 hours across a two-week period, but throughout nine days instead of ten. This schedule can be more complicated to manage at first but calls for nine-hour days instead of ten-hour days, which many people find more sustainable in the long run.

There is no one schedule that will work best for everyone. You need to find a schedule that works best for you, your business, and your employees. Ideally, finding ways to increase work-life balance and flexibility will keep you and your employees stress-free and motivated.

Thinking about how to try perhaps you can consider making an appointment with your boss and tell him or her that you’re interested in a more flexible work arrangement. Show data on how you’ve already exceeded expectations, and mention that by being able to unplug during your time off you will prevent burnout and return back with renewed energy and fresh ideas.

He or she may be more open to the idea if you ask for a trial period, such as three months.

Baptista is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is a Hybrid Professional, HR Generalist, strategic planner, innovative, professional connector and a motivator. Visit our website: E-mail us [email protected] for your management consulting needs.  Follow this conversation on our social media pages Facebook / LinkedIn/ Twitter / Instagram: FoReal HR Services.   Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313.  Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC


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