United Arab Emirates is the first country in the world to adopt a 4½ day workweek across the government. At the same time it switched from a Friday-Saturday weekend, as is common in Muslim countries, to a break extending from Friday afternoon through Sunday, aligning its calendar with Western countries. Private employers are expected to follow suit.
In a country that has a Minister of Happiness, the government emphasised the social as well as economic benefits.
“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness.”
Many other countries have been experimenting with four day workweeks.
Trials of a four day work week in Iceland have proven to be an “overwhelming success”.
The Japanese government this year recommended that companies allow their employees to work four days a week.
The Spanish government has launched pilots of a four day work week for interested private employers.
And the youthful Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, has proposed shifting the entire economy to four six-hour days each week.
It was 1936 when Ford Motor Company made the step to a five-day work week, eventually taking the rest of the world with it.
Which nation will take the lead in shifting us to a four day work week?