If you were a Slack ($WORK) employee, you'd probably still be in bed right now. Today is "Slack Friyay," Slack's monthly company holiday designed to give workers time to focus on self-care. "During the current pandemic, Slack have made one Friday a month as a company holiday to allow the employees to use these days to rest, recharge and focus on our well-being," Head of Customer Success Chris Mills wrote in a post on LinkedIn.
There must be something in the coffee. Even with COVID-19, Slack continues to grow. The company's employee headcount has grown 18% since January. Shares were rising three days ago, but stock sunk yesterday. Today, it went up 13 cents to $31.74.
With many Americans working from home through the pandemic, conversations around the four-day week have started again. "A four-day work week might be exactly what the U.S. — and its economy — needs right now," NBC reported last month, citing greater productivity in international colleagues' reduced hours. Microsoft Japan tried the four-day work week and claimed productivity rose by 40% and electricity costs fell by 23%. Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin, said the country wants to experiment with the four-day work week as well.
According to a 2018 global study by Kronos Incorporated of 3,000 employees across eight countries, 45% of full-time workers say it would take less than five hours a day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted. Three out of four employees would work four days or fewer per week if pay remained the same. 71% of employees said work interferes with their personal life. Slack's glorified summer Friday policy might be a step in the right direction, but it's far from radical.
Trip Advisor ($TRIP) and publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($HMHC) are also adopting pro-worker language, but for ultimately harmful policies. Both companies switched to four-day weeks with pay reductions amidst the pandemic. Their employee headcounts have fallen over the past few months with layoffs and furloughs. Trip Advisor's workforce has shrunk by 7% since February.
Fewer hours for less pay is unsustainable for most workers. That’s why some labor activists are fighting for shorter work weeks and fair, livable wages in the post-pandemic world. Summer "Friyays" won't cut it.
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