Could a shorter working week lead to a happier life?- HR and the Future of Work – Issue 58: CogX

Future of Work

Lots of us enjoy a bank holiday Monday. Regardless of the weather, it meant a day away from the remote office and a 4-day working week. Companies and countries are thinking about whether to trial a 4-day week for the workforce or even make that a permanent policy for employees. But who pays for it? And what benefits might we expect?

Below are some recent stories covering these types of questions and examples of pilots so we will hopefully learn what works best for employers and employees. Could a shorter working week lead to a happier life?




P.S. Don’t miss ‘Trends for the future of work,’ at CogX Festival 2021 curated with: Institute for the Future of Work for a deeper dive into the post-covid working landscape.

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P.P.P.S. As we strive for a more cohesive society, let’s take a moment to recognise the world’s tech innovators achieving just that. Submit your nominees for the CogX Awards 2021 category, ‘Global Goals’ now.


We might ultimately find ourselves working less, with more leisure time, as we have after previous industrial revolutions. Research shows that shorter hours can mean happier lives. In the UK, half of all sick absences are due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, with workload the number one reason given.

Read more (X-Prize)


There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. It doesn’t seem to result in more output, according to a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. Managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to.

Read more (Harvard Business Review)


In Spain, the idea of a 4-day week has been growing for a couple of years. Now, Time reports on a pilot, which is expected to launch in September and last three years will use 50 million euros in European Union funding to compensate an estimated 200 companies for reducing their employees’ work week to 32 hours—without cutting their salaries.

Read more (TIME Magazine)


The tech sector has a complicated relationship with public transit. On the one hand, technology has brought some urban infrastructure into the 21st century, easing passengers’ journeys.. But on the other, tech companies like Uber have been criticized for intentionally taking riders (and revenue) away from public transit, while simultaneously clogging streets. How the two can best coexist is an ongoing debate in both worlds?

Read more (MIT Technology Review)


Last week, numerous employees at remote working software company Basecamp announced on social media that they are leaving the company days after its co-founder and CEO announced sweeping changes including banning political talk on work accounts as well as banning all workplace committees.

Read more (VICE)

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The past year has had an effect on all our working lives; from remote working and home offices to disrupted shifts, furloughs and for many unfortunate people, unemployment. This X-Prize podcast episode explores the post-COVID impact on work and how rapid reskilling has the capacity to impact our working lives.

Listen now (X-Prize)


HBR points to a new dilemma facing companies. On the one hand, evolving regulatory frameworks on AI will significantly impact their ability to use the technology; on the other, with new laws and proposals still evolving, it’s not yet clear what companies can and should do.

Read more (Harvard Business Review)

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