A pilot programme in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, has found that a four-day work week can have numerous benefits for workers’ health, the environment, and even children. The city scheduled local holidays on four consecutive Mondays from April 10 to May 7, impacting 360,000 workers.
The study, conducted by an independent commission of health and social science experts, revealed that many workers used the extended weekends to adopt healthier lifestyles, such as engaging in sports, resting, and consuming homemade meals. Participants reported improved self-perceived health, reduced stress, increased happiness, and enhanced personal satisfaction.
Environmental benefits were also observed. A decrease in motor vehicle usage on the four Mondays led to a reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions, resulting in improved air quality.
However, there were some downsides. The data indicated an increase in tobacco and alcohol consumption among smokers and drinkers. Additionally, while the hospitality and tourism sectors saw a boost in customers over the extended weekends, retailers experienced a drop in sales. The healthcare sector also faced challenges, with emergency medical services potentially stretched thin due to healthcare workers taking time off.
Interestingly, children seemed to benefit the most from the initiative, as parents enjoyed a better work-life balance.
The project was initiated by the Compromis coalition, a left-wing alliance of progressive, green, and regionalist parties that governed the city during the pilot’s implementation.