A message on the answering machine from the Desigual switchboard warns that its office hours are Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
And they comply.
It is one of the companies that approved in 2021, after putting it to a vote, the four-day shift, with the option of one day of teleworking, in exchange for a 6.5% reduction in salary.
Also, since the summer of 2021, the digital marketing agency Good Rebels enjoys this type of day in the offices of Spain, the United Kingdom and Mexico.
In principle it was a way to keep its 135 employees motivated and rested.
After a year they observed something else: they measured competitiveness, that is, sales per employee, and observed that productivity had increased by 7% in the last 12 months.
“We took the data with caution because we came from months that were complicated by the pandemic and we had applied measures to improve work processes, but we have seen in subsequent months that the reduction in working hours has not harmed productivity, quite the contrary, that we continue to with the same growth, and at the same time we have motivated people”, says Fernando Polo, general director of Good Rebels.
The formula they apply, he points out, is the one followed by companies in the United Kingdom, "a much more advanced country in this type of shift": 100-80-100.
100% of the salary is collected, working time is reduced to 80% and 100% of productivity is maintained.
There is no company that after having tried it goes back.
The reflection is from Íñigo Errejón, defender of the four-day shift, 32 hours of work, without a salary reduction.
"It increases productivity, allows you to gain quality and life time, has a positive impact on the environment because travel is reduced, work is distributed and, by having time available, consumption in shorter-circuit shops is encouraged."
It is the labor revolution of the 21st century.
“A century ago, Spain conquered the right to an eight-hour working day, and now we have to continue advancing in the battle for time.
It is the fight of the future, freeing up time, working less, taking advantage of technology to obtain the same thing with less effort.
It was our turn to open the debate and make public policies in this regard, ”explains the Más País deputy.
Errejón is referring to the aid, with a global budget of 10 million euros, which was approved last December by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that develop pilot projects to reduce working hours work four days a week with a minimum duration of 24 months.
“It is a support line for companies, and its final implementation will depend on the strength of the organization of the workers in the companies”, he details, aware that initial reluctance is normal.
“The achievement of the eight-hour working day was not agreed in a seminar.
It is very difficult to achieve social progress and it is necessary to overcome the culture of presenteeism, which does not correspond to the culture of this century.
It does not consist in putting in more hours but in doing it better”, he continues.
Alejandro Peral, a resident of the Gambia for two and a half years and director of digital trends and policies at Harmon Corporate Affairs, a consultancy that has approved a manifesto that addresses labor flexibility, and where the issue of reduced working hours is addressed.
“The conditions and challenges of the labor market must be analyzed, with emphasis on salary or training conditions, as well as whether the hours we are working make sense.
The 40 hours spread over five days have not been questioned in years and this option needs to be reconsidered”, he explains.
It is something that is in the public debate and connects with the idea of progress.
Working less and producing more is related to the themes of social justice.
This means, clarifies Peral,
that the ideal for society is to work less, produce what is necessary and not tend to overproduction and distribute everything more equitably.
"This implies that there will be people with more free time and less dedication to work, which leads to a redesign of leisure and free time and a redistribution of wealth."
The coronavirus crisis was in many cases the trigger to explore this type of measure.
In Simeom Capital, on the other hand, they were already "interested in working on additional lines aimed at improving working conditions" before the covid, according to its director, Francisco Artis.
Even so, it was not until April 2021 that the company began to experiment with a four-day work week, without a reduction in salary and with a total of nine hours a day.
"The objective was to verify if there was greater satisfaction on the part of the worker and this had a positive impact on the productivity of the company," says Artis.
Three months after testing the new day in two of their departments, they were clear that it was, so the measure continues to be extended to the rest of the areas.
187 employees (45% of the workforce) enjoy it.
“It is difficult to make a coffee for everyone, but once it has been proven that it works and that it is good, we take another leap to another unit”, she explains.
The formula has also worked at the
firm Byld, where employees have not worked on Fridays for a year.
"It has not affected the level of customer satisfaction at all, nor have there been any more delays in deliveries," warns the company's CEO, Adrián Heredia.
What it has influenced, on the other hand, is making his company more attractive to the team: “We don't do it from an approach of how we can be more productive because we already were.
Rather it is about making us happier and enjoying the road.
Obviously, there has to be a good salary, but there are many more factors due to which a person spends two thirds of his life working ”, he warns.
There is an additional debate on whether this reduction in working hours should be accompanied by a salary reduction.
This was Telefónica's approach with the plan launched in June 2022, which was rejected by the majority of the staff since it entailed a salary reduction.
“The important thing is to align the interests of the whole world, to identify the things that were unproductive to improve jobs and the quality of life of people.
It is a way of retaining staff, we have less turnover”.
The speaker is María Álvarez, co-owner of the Ephimera transformer business factory and the La Francachela restaurants, who as soon as she came out of confinement adopted the measure for the 70 staff, most of them women.
“We began to implement it when the schools were closed due to the pandemic,
and it was that moment that helped us to modernize the companies”.
It was an emergency measure that had an impact on productivity.
"Besides, working four days changes your life."
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