VALENCIA CITY’S four-day working week experiment in April and May has brought positive results over health benefits and extra family time, yet brought caution from some businesses.
Surveys carried out subsequently showed improvements for the well-being and health of people as well as in environmental quality, with pollution cut due to fewer work journeys.
On the other hand, sales in shops were reduced by 20% and residents increased their tobacco and alcohol consumption by having one extra leisure day per week.
Valencia City Council commissioned a €40,000 study where 2,100 people were quizzed about the initiative that affected around 360,000 people by cutting the working week to 32 hours but would have hopefully increased productivity.
Experts in areas like health, the environment, children, sociology, economics, and public polices also took part in the study.
One of the big positives of the reduced hours was that employees reported a lower stress level and spent more time on healthy activities- almost 40% reported doing more physical exercise .
In other activities, 46% have increased the time spent reading, 28% going to the cinema, 42% studying, 60% watching movies online, and more than 40% travelling and sightseeing.
Diets also improved with more time to eat more home-cooked food – 35% have reduced their intake of pre-cooked food – and about 73% have spent more time with friends.
In addition, more than half of those surveyed confirmed they spent more time with their children- 57%.
Downsides of the reduced hours included regular consumers of alcohol and tobacco increasing their use by 25% and the study also concluded increased pressure on emergency medical care services.
Private companies sending carers to look after the elderly said that cutting a day provided a reduction of service for needy people and caused salary reductions for employees who are paid on ‘hours worked’.
Retailers claimed that sales were down by as much as 20% but had no evidence to back up whether that was related to the reduced week.
Likewise, hospitality businesses said trade went up greatly but that could have been down to the Easter period and other bank holidays at the time.