When the pandemic first forced offices to close and the number of commuters on roads suddenly dropped, the environmental impact was visible in cities like Los Angeles and New Delhi: Smog disappeared as more cars stayed at home. Carbon emissions temporarily fell. A new report looks at how some of the same benefits could come from a shift in schedules if more companies shifted to a four-day work week.
The report from the 4 Day Week Campaign and the environmental organization Platform London, found that if the U.K. moved to a four-day working week by 2025, emissions could drop by 127 million metric tons, or more than 20%—roughly equivalent to taking the country’s entire fleet of private cars off roads.
“I think for quite a long time now, especially the last couple of years, the benefits of a four-day working week with no loss of pay—in terms of the boost that we’re given in terms of mental health and well-being of workers—has been very obvious and increasingly understood across the board,” says Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, an organization pushing for a 32-hour workweek (with full-time pay) in the U.K. Some businesses are also realizing that a shorter week can boost productivity because workers are more focused and refreshed when they are in the office. “But actually, there’s a whole other side to it,” he says. “It’s also going to be very good for the environment.”