In many industrial countries, people work five eight-hour days or 40 hours a week. But some companies now want their employees to work just four days a week and still pay them for five.

Companies that reduced work hours have found that their employees like their jobs more and are more productive at work.

Jan Schulz-Hofen set up the computer software company Planio in Berlin, Germany. Planio offered a four-day week to its 10-member work force earlier this year. Schulz-Hofen said, “It is much healthier and we do a better job if we’re not working crazy hours.”

In Japan, the government is urging companies to let their workers have Monday mornings off. Other attempts to reduce working hours, however, have had little effect since many Japanese continue to work extra hours anyway.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) is pushing for the country to move to a four-day week by the end of the century. The group argues that a shorter workweek is a way for workers to share in the wealth made by new technologies like machine learning and robotics. The union compared that to the time they won the right to have weekends off during the industrial revolution.

TUC’s Kate Bell noted, “It would reduce the stress of juggling working and family life and could improve gender equality. Companies that have already tried it say it’s better for productivity and staff well-being.”


Lucie Greene is with the marketing communications company J. Walter Thompson. She said, “People are starting to take a step back from the 24-hour digital life we have now and realize the mental health issues from being constantly connected to work.”

Schulz-Hofen of Planio first tested the four-day workweek on himself. He felt the need to slow down after several years of intense work to launch the software company.

“I didn’t get less work done in four days than in five because in five days, you think you have more time, you take longer,” he said. With a four-day workweek, he added, “I have to be quick, I have to be focused if I want to have my free Friday.”

Schulz-Hofen added, “We got an unexpected reaction from customers. Most of our clients did not complain. They were just jealous.”

Dan Schawbel expects more companies and countries will permit a four-day workweek, but not in the United States. He said, “I think America will be the last country to give us Monday mornings off because we’re so used to this way of working.”

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.


crazy (adj.) - foolish, unreasonable


juggle (v.) - to do several things at the same time


gender (n.) - the state of being male or female


digital  (adj.) - using or characterized by computer technology


customer (n.) - someone who buys goods or services from a business


jealous  (adj.) - showing unhappy or angry desire to have what someone else has



Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.


  1. What is the usual working hours amount?
  2. What are new companies trying to do?
  3. Are people more efficient when working less?
  4. What is the last country to give free monday morning?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

crazy, juggle, digital, gender


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.


  1. How much do you work?
  2. Could you be more effective if you would work less hours?
  3. Do you think this is possible?
  4. Can too much work be bad for you?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.