“During confinement we realized the importance of conciliation and the limited support from the Government to favor it, so when we left again in May 2020 we asked ourselves what we could do as a company to improve in that regard. Of the options that we analyzed, we realized that the best was to apply the four-day shift. Although we had to change the entire organization and invest in technology, it has made us much better.”
How to make the four-day workweek a reality
María Álvarez, owner of the firm La Francachela, which manages two important restaurants in Madrid, thus explains the introduction of the four-day shift “for the entire workforce” in its establishments, something that seemed unthinkable a few years ago and that they are already successfully applying companies from various sectors: “The debate is always the same, some say it is impossible and that everything would go down the drain, but the reality is that it is simply about reorganizing to be more efficient and in that sense there is a very good opportunity behind the pandemic due to the changes that have been implemented in many companies,” he explains.
Álvarez participated this Friday in the International Summit of the Four-Day Week that was held Friday and this Saturday at the La Petxina cultural center in València, organized by Labora, the employment and training service of the Generalitat Valenciana, together with representatives of other companies such as Software Delsol, Big Buy, Hampa Studios, Perpetual Guardian or Swapcard, which explain the experiences they are experiencing with this new work approach.
National leaders such as Yolanda Díaz, Íñigo Errejón, Unai Sordo, Mónica Oltra and Pepe Álvarez also participated in the event, as well as international leaders such as John McDonnell, Katrin Langensiepen and Gudmundur Haraldsson.
“What determines productivity is the way in which the company is organized and in that sense we have modified our entire operating system to maintain the same jobs with the same salaries, but with a 35-hour day spread over four days ( the normal in the hospitality industry is six days). For example, customers can order directly when they sit down through a mobile application without waiting for the waiter to take their order, which saves a lot of time that can be spent on other things, ”he explains.
It’s all advantages
According to his experience, there are all advantages with this modality: “This implies a substantial improvement in people’s quality of life while promoting consumption, the fact of having a freer day is time that people invest in leisure, in well-being, in culture, in short, the economy is stimulated”.
Ana Arroyo is responsible for human resources at Software Delsol, the first company in Spain to apply the four-day week in January 2020: “We conducted surveys on the working environment of workers and we realized that after salary, conciliation and availability of free time was the most valued aspect, which led us to consider this change”.
As he explains, unlike what Álvarez recounted, in his case it was necessary to invest in expanding the workforce, so that “a study of the needs by departments was carried out to apply the four-day week without the quality of the service would be diminished and we consider necessary an increase of 20 employees, going from 165 to 186”.
An investment that, according to him, has been more than profitable: “Invoicing has increased by 20% and the customer satisfaction index has gone from 8.58 to 8.91. We believe that a worker who has social and emotional well-being is much more productive and that ends up benefiting the company”.
Valencia offers itself a month for a pilot test
The mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, proposed to develop in Valencia a pilot project for a 4-day-a-week working day that allows “a rigorous study to be carried out, with conclusions that serve to prepare a report with a European and international scope that assesses the impact of its application and the consequences in terms of productivity but also leisure, mobility, the economy, people’s health”.
“An experience that has to be preceded by a great social agreement” and, therefore, “we want to open a process of dialogue, together with the Generalitat, with social agents, neighborhood entities and institutions”.
The mayor detailed “the great change that València has experienced in recent years, prioritizing everything related to people’s well-being”. For this reason, he has urged to go a step further, “and open the debate on concrete measures that allow a more balanced distribution of our time to be able to reconcile all our spaces”.
To this end, Ribó offered València, an innovative city, as the setting for the development of a pilot project for a 32-hour work week, which would be carried out for a month in a row.
“The objective -he explained- would be that for a month all Valencian men and women have, effectively, a working day of 32 hours per week”. “The Valencia experience would mark the roadmap for future employment and the rights of people to decent, quality work that allows them to reconcile and improve their well-being,” he added.
Unai Sordo (CCOO) sees collective bargaining as necessary
The general secretary of the CCOO, Unai Sordo, warned that the 32-hour working day can only be implemented as a “specific experiment” if there is no collective bargaining, although he has defended that the reduction of working time is a “perfectly viable” objective. ” and must be adapted to each company and sector.
“The 32-hour day, like the 35, 30 or whatever, has to be fundamentally through collective bargaining,” he declared at a union act in Sagunt. Precisely, the Generalitat Valenciana has committed public aid, within a pilot project, for companies that voluntarily decide to apply the four-day shift.