Work less to save the planet! Four-day workweek could cut emissions 20%

The pandemic has definitely changed the way we see the world, and it has also changed the way we work. A lot of people are wondering if maybe it’s time to redefine how the world works. Perhaps it’s time to make every employee’s dream come true by slowly transitioning to a four-day workweek.

Over the past years more and more companies and governments have become more open to the idea like Microsoft Japan or Unilever New Zealand. And while the hard lockdown period may have been the reset that nature needed, everything opening up again seems to have made things much worse. However, by implementing a four-day workweek, we can slow down climate change.

A 2012 study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, argued that “countries with shorter work hours tend to have lower ecological footprints, carbon footprints, and carbon dioxide emissions”. They estimated that one-less workday could reduce a carbon footprint by more than 30%.

This is proven by the recent efforts of companies that have tested this model. For instance, the Microsoft Japan trial found that the four-day workweek led to a 23% decline in electricity use and a 59% decline in paper printing.

Now, a new UK study finds that a 32-hour workweek could help fight climate change by reducing emissions more than 20%. The report illustrates that shifting to a four-day working week by 2025 could shrink the UK’s annual carbon footprint by 127 tonnes of GHG emissions, address some of the hardest to decarbonize emissions from international transport and manufacturing and reduce the outsourcing of pollution to poorer countries.

Working time reduction may represent a multiple dividend policy, contributing to enhanced quality of life and lower unemployment as well as emissions mitigation.