How Many Hours Are We Really Working?

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Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that the average annual hours worked by employed people in 2020 were lowest in Germany at 1,332 (25.6 per week). Americans work an average of 1,767 hours (34 per week), while Canadians work 1,664 hours (32 per week). Among other places experimenting with four-day workweeks, those in the United Kingdom work 26 hours per week, Spaniards work 30 hours per week, and the Japanese work 31 hours per week.11 When you look at these numbers, it would seem that the average American who is age 16 or older already has almost the equivalent of a four-day workweek, and workers in some other countries have even more free time. But if you look at the U.S. data more carefully, you’ll…
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Challenges of a Four-Day Workweek

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A four-day workweek doesn’t always mean that employees maintain their pay and benefits. Some organizations, including the Los Angeles Times and Stanley Black & Decker, have reportedly used a four-day week as a cost-saving measure and have cut employees’ pay by 20%.15 And short-term trials that demonstrate success with a four-day workweek can differ from long-term outcomes. Treehouse, an online coding school, implemented a four-day workweek from the get-go in 2013. Its CEO, Ryan Carson, had used the strategy from 2006 at his previous company. As late as 2015, he was publicly praising the compressed week’s benefits, from improved productivity to a more balanced life.17 But in 2016, Carson reinstated a 40-hour workweek at Treehouse and had to lay people off. He said the 32-hour week created a lack of…
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