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Experts tell Davos a 3-day weekend is good for business

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Davos in Switzerland, which hosts the WEF summit. Photo: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

A three-day weekend would help business by making workers more productive and loyal, according to two experts.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) summit at Davos, Switzerland might not be the first place you would expect to find academics promoting a radical plan to cut the hours people work. But the organisation, often associated with the global elite and free-market thinking, shared a post through its website on the controversial idea of a four-day week.

It highlighted how several studies have shown that shorter working weeks would not only make people happier, but would also reduce stress levels, leading to improved work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.


Such changes could actually make workers more productive, according to these findings, with one trial finding a 20% rise on productivity among staff.

WEF cited analysis by two experts in the field, with one saying the idea was actually less radical than it might sound to many business leaders at the event.

“For decades, all the major economists, philosophers, sociologists, they all believed, up until the 1970s, that we would be working less and less,” according to economist and historian Rutger Bregman, author of ‘Utopia for Realists.’

“In the 1920s and 1930s, there were actually major capitalist entrepreneurs who discovered that if you shorten the working week, employees become more productive.”

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“Henry Ford, for example, discovered that if he changed the working week from 60 hours to 40 hours, his employees would become more productive, because they were not that tired in their spare time,” Bregman said.

Adam Grant, a psychologist from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, added:

“I think we have some good experiments showing that if you reduce work hours, people are able to focus their attention more effectively, they end up producing just as much, often with higher quality and creativity, and they are also more loyal to the organisations that are willing to give them the flexibility to care about their lives outside of work.”

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