In many industrial countries, people work five eight-hour days or 40 hours a week. But some companies now want their employees to work just four days a week and still pay them for five.
Is it too good to be true?
Companies that reduced work hours have found that their employees like their jobs more and are more productive at work.
Jan Schulz-Hofen set up the computer software company Planio in Berlin, Germany. Planio offered a four-day week to its 10-member work force earlier this year. Schulz-Hofen said, "It is much healthier and we do a better job if we're not working crazy hours."
In New Zealand, a company called Perpetual Guardian tested how its employees reacted to a 32-hour workweek earlier this year. It said the workers reported feeling less pressured and more involved with the business.
In Japan, the government is urging companies to let their workers have Monday mornings off. Other attempts to reduce working hours, however, have had little effect since many Japanese continue to work extra hours anyway.
A study of 3,000 employees found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their work in five hours a day if they did not have to stop and re-start. Many said they already are working more than 40 hours a week anyway. The workers were from eight countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany.
Dan Schawbel expects more companies and countries will permit a four-day workweek, but not in the United States. He said, "I think America will be the last country to give us Monday mornings off because we're so used to this way of working."