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4-Day Work Week | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #50

4-Day Work Week

Be it resolved, it’s time to embrace a 4-day work week.

Guests
Andrew Barnes
Julian Jessop

About this episode

COVID-19 presented a monumental shift in the way people work. Home offices replaced commutes and cubicles, ZOOM calls took over from conference rooms, and communication went from in person to over Slack. Some people believe now is the time to re-think other conventional work practices as well, specifically the five-day work week. Companies that have experimented with fewer workday hours showed an increase in productivity, better employee retention, higher recruitment of skilled workers, and overall happier staff. Shorter weeks, proponents of the 4-day work week argue, also promote gender equality by allowing mothers and caretakers more flexible hours to do their work. Companies do better when their staff are happier, rested, and live more balanced lifestyles.

Others argue that trimming the work week without affecting the bottom line is a fantasy. Companies would require extraordinary gains in productivity to make up for lost hours, and access to services would decline. Certain public service professionals, like doctors or teachers, simply cannot do more work in less time, thereby requiring the government to hire more workers at great cost to the taxpayer. And finally, many hourly wage workers depend on the five-day work week to make ends meet. Awarding a long weekend to the laptop class while requiring everyone else to work 40 hours will deepen divisions in the labour market and exacerbate already existing inequalities.

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Guests

Andrew Barnes

“A 4-day work week is good for business, it's good for our people, it's good for our countries, and it's good for our planet.”

Andrew Barnes

“A 4-day work week is good for business, it's good for our people, it's good for our countries, and it's good for our planet.”

Innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Barnes has made a career of market-changing innovation and industry digitisation. In New Zealand, Andrew triggered a revolution of the entire fiduciary and legal services industries, and the transformation he has led as the founder of Perpetual Guardian has positive implications both locally and globally.  

As the innovator behind the 4 Day Week, Andrew is regularly asked to address international audiences on the future of work and subjects such as governance, philanthropy, business leadership, entrepreneurship, company culture and change management, and presented a TEDx Talk on the topic in 2019.  

In response to the demand for more insight, Andrew published a white paper on the 4 Day Week in 2019 and wrote a book on the topic, released in 2020 in North America, New Zealand and Australia, the UK and Europe. He also established 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit, international community of people interested in ushering in the work model of the 21st century.  

Julian Jessop

“The idea that almost everybody could expect to work four days rather than five and still get the same pay they did before is unrealistic.”

Julian Jessop

“The idea that almost everybody could expect to work four days rather than five and still get the same pay they did before is unrealistic.”

Julian Jessop is a professional economist with over thirty years of experience gained in the public sector, financial services, and consultancy, including stints at the UK Treasury, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Capital Economics. 

Most recently, Julian was Chief Economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the educational charity and free-market think tank. He left that role in 2018, but continues to support the work of the IEA, especially schools and university outreach, on a ‘pro bono’ basis. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  

Julian graduated with a first-class honours degree in Economics from Cambridge University in 1987 and has further qualifications in both economics and law. 

He has a wide range of research interests, including labour markets, productivity, UK and global economics, fiscal and monetary policy, health economics, poverty and inequality, and the economics of the environment. 

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