Manila, Philippines

Four-Day Workweek in Philippines

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Why not? I want!

This week is a 4-day workweek in the Philippines, thanks to the Chinese New Year. Makes me wonder whether a 4-day workweek will be effective and feasible in the Philippines. What do you think? 

I have little knowledge in the economics of this, but what I know is that countries and states have tried this out, some succeeded, some failed. How to actually operationalize and roll this out on a national scale will be interesting as well (similar to Daylight Saving Time) and I might read on this a bit more and share more in other posts.

For now, I’d like to play around the idea a bit more. Barring all technical aspects of it, I think the biggest obstacle is that our operations, plans, mindset and systems are wired and laid out using a 5-day workweek — well precisely because that is what we have right now. We are so used to it. But during weeks with holidays and long weekends, we still manage to survive right? The economy does not collapse. Holiday economics will even say long weekends are helpful. How about making it long weekend every week? Wouldn’t it be fun?

We are used to 5-day workweeks that is why trimming it down to 4 seems out of scope, uncertain, uncomfortable. But if we think of it as long weekends that are more frequent (long weekend every week), wouldn’t it be bearable? Again, wouldn’t it be fun?
As an employee, the thought of a 4-day workweek is very appealing. I’m almost sure that I will like it. Especially for employees who spend more than 8 hours per workday anyway (and without much OT pay), why not just require 10 hours of work, 4 days a week. That will give the economy the same 40 work hours per week. At least.

Advantage will be more time for rest, leisure and tourism, time with family, less overhead costs for companies, less traffic, commuting time and rush hours. We can also explore lessening the holidays and paid leave entitlements of employees since we will only work 4 times a week anyway.

Productivity though must be enhanced to compensate for the one less day to work by maximizing the 2 extra hours per day. Anyway workdays are extended to 10 hours, with less aggregate time per week spent for lunch breaks, commuting to and from work, etc. And given that workweeks are shorter, employees must be pressured and motivated to be more efficient and effective. As employees, we all know that more time spent at work does not always translate to more productivity right? How about less time to finish things within a week? More pressure, more focus, more efficiency and effectiveness.

At the trend businesses in the Philippines go though, it is quite opposite from making workweeks shorter. Banks now have longer business hours compared to the classic 9am-3pm schedule, they are even open in malls during weekends. BPOs synchronize operations with Western customers, hence they even have graveyard shifts. PSE is also aligning its trading hours with Southeast Asian neighbors. The increasing globalization and mobility of people seem to be a few additional challenges for a 4-day workweek.

But hey, we are more mobile and online now right? Maybe it can help lessen a day of work for us. Besides, we managed to develop as a country with banks operating 9am-3pm only. Why can’t we do 8am-5pm business hours, 4 days a week? Again, for me, it is a matter of getting used to it. Like if you tell us that moving forward, there will be no work and offices on Fridays to Sundays, then people will adjust to maximize Mondays to Thursdays. We managed to get used to no business hours (for certain businesses) on Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t think it will be impossible to get used to no business hours during Fridays to Sundays.

Of course, again, capacity, service levels, schedules, systems, cutoffs, cycles, efficiency and turnaround time will have to be adjusted. Just like how we adjust if there are long weekends.
It is a given that malls and hospitals, PNP and AFP and other 24/7 businesses and operations will have to adjust accordingly via more shifts and rotations. My only concern now is how about the daily wage earners, and government services?
What do you think? Are you with me? Will we get used to it? And will Filipinos work harder 4 days a week to get 3 days worth of rest?
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