Imagine a city where all businesses, public administrations and schools were closed on Mondays, with the weekend off: you are transported to Valencia, Spain, in the spring of 2023. The city of 795,000 inhabitants was tested 4 days a week, from April 10th to May. 7.
If many companies, administration or branches of activity have already experimented with a 4-day week, this is the first time that the entire city has adopted this rhythm. For what consequences on the activity of the city and the well-being of the population? The results are quite nuanced, according to a town hall report carried by the daily El País. Citizens gave this weekly rhythm a total score of 7 out of 10.
Benefits for health and professional/personal balance
In more detail, the Valencians emphasize the benefits of the 32-hour week on their health: this extra time allowed them to lead a less stressful and healthier lifestyle (more sports and sleep, cooking balanced meals at home). home…), to be counterbalanced by higher consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
They also appreciate the better work-life balance this permanent public holiday provides. This surplus of free time allowed them to spend more time with their family and friends, to increase the number of cultural excursions, educational activities or nature walks.
However, the research highlights the difference between men and women: while 42% of the former say they played more sports during that period, only 33% of women do the same. On the other hand, 51% of women devoted more time to their addicts (compared to 36% of men), and 53% to their children (compared to 30% of men).
Conflicting economic benefits
As for the collective advantages of a 4-day week, we can highlight the calmer flow of car traffic and the improvement of air quality on Mondays. The pilot experiment also resulted in a significant increase in the number of visitors to bars and restaurants, hotels and leisure venues.
In contrast, it generated a 20% drop in sales in stores that closed their doors. Finally, the measure led to the saturation of hospital services due to the closure of neighborhood health centers on Mondays.
In conclusion, the report recommends that the reduction of working hours be the subject of collective negotiations in each company that wants to implement it, in order to respond to their specificities.
Since the end of the experiment, the coming to power of a far-right municipal team opposed to the four-day week should not lead to a permanent generalization of the formula.