We’ve all heard how a 4 day work week is beneficial to our mental health, work/life balance and overall productivity. However, recent studies have shown that that’s not all there is; a four day work week could actually have a major impact in helping us adapt and mitigate the climate change crisis.
According to a Political Economy Research Institute research paper, a 10% reduction in working hours -meaning working 4 hours less a week- could lead to a simultaneous reduction in carbon footprint and CO2 emissions by 14.6% and 4.2% respectively. Therefore, if working hours were reduced by 20%, meaning only working 4 days a week, this could result in a carbon footprint decline by around 30%. The reason for this is actually fairly simple: less work means less commuting, less food delivery, less printing and less energy consumption.
With a four day work week, it is estimated that employees would drive around 560 million miles less than average. This would result in an amazing mitigation method to reduce GHG emissions that come from traffic. With more and more companies going back to in-person working environments, we can expect traffic delays to become a recurring issue again.
A day less in the office also means less power is needed. Microsoft did an experiment in 2019 in their offices in Japan to establish a 4 day work week. The results were overwhelming; one less day working led the company to reduce power consumption by 23%, and the amount of pages printed dropped to 58.7% compared to 2016. According to a Henley Business School study, “a four-day working week could save UK businesses an estimated £104 billion annually”.
Not only is a four day work week more environmentally sustainable in of itself, but it may also lead to more eco-friendly practices. For example, having less days of work could result in less office takeaway food delivered in non-recyclable packaging with single-use plastics, more time to meal prep at home, and more time to invest in environmental practices.