Japan Inc. Moving Toward 4-Day Work Week
The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.
This week, John and Rachel discuss a Nikkei Asian Review article, “Japan Inc. moving toward 4-day work week“.
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John: Welcome back, Rachel, happy Monday, another episode of Green Apple Slices. Thank you so much for coming back and talking with me again.
Rachel: Of course. Happy Monday to you, too, John.
John: I read an article called “Japanese employers shifting to a four-day work week to allow for more work-life balance” and I immediately thought of you.
Rachel: Because I need some?
John: Right! So here we are, I think it’s pretty interesting. It was an article in the Nikkei Asian Review just talking about how companies in Japan are starting to look to do more of a four-day work week and it allows people to have kids or maybe older parents they have to care for, to have more of that balance.
Rachel: Which is great, you can imagine that I don’t love this. The reason why I don’t love this is because to me it doesn’t actually solve the work-life balance part. It just means that you’re working less and lifeing more but to me it doesn’t actually address the problem of being able to balance that well. I don’t think it’s about reducing the hours, I think it’s just about learning how to handle it better which I clearly don’t.
John: Right, looks like you need to move to Japan.
Rachel: Guess who’s never moving to Japan. I love my husband, I love my children, I enjoy time when we’re together but I think I’m just a little bit of a workaholic and I can’t have more time off. Because I would miss it and it’s part of who I am and I do what I do well and I look forward to doing it and so I wasn’t totally sure that just cutting those would actually achieve the result that you’re looking for.
John: Well, here’s the thing that’s really fantastic about this, though, is that you’re still doing the 40-hours just in four days so you do four ten-hour days instead of five ten or twelve-hour days, like you do now. But the great thing is is that it actually forces you to be more efficient so those meetings that are completely unnecessary or extra documents to be signed or checked or whatever and this and that, those have to be eliminated because it really forces you to get things done in a shorter amount of time. And if you were to come up in that culture then I don’t think it would be such a big deal for you but it’s too late, we can’t go back in time, we don’t have a DeLorean to make that happen.
Rachel: We really don’t. And there were a few examples within this article and one of them was talking about not reducing the number of hours which is making four ten-hour days and then there was another section that was talking about actually reducing the number of hours to 32 so you would have four regular eight-hour days and then followed by three days of holidays. But again, I don’t think that shortening the hours, I can see that you would have to become more efficient or you would have to become more engaged which means that your production rate is increasing, those types of things. But to me it would better serve these employers to concentrate on that piece and make sure that that’s in place first before just changing the number of hours that you’re working because to me those are two more unrelated things than this article led me to believe by the title.
John: Got it. So it’s like just letting the wild dog out without training it first.
Rachel: That’s right.
John: You let Rachel out of the cage and who knows what’s going to happen.
Rachel: Right. So we’re going to do some transformations within the company, we’re going to make sure that we are remodeling our management style and our management system and how we define ourselves as a corporate culture to move towards this, and then we’re going to pull your hours away. To me, that’s a little better than shortening and then figuring out how it’s going to work later.
John: Right, or even work with people to define who they are as people so that then when they do have three free days they know what to occupy that with besides pining to come back to work.
Rachel: Like I would be doing.
John: Right, just twiddling your thumbs, counting down the hours, “Oh, when’s it Monday again?” And they don’t even have the Green Apple Podcast to listen to, so gosh.
Rachel: Oh, my goodness! Monday — do they have?
John: I know, I can’t even imagine, I need to work on my PR people to get over there. So there you go, everybody, that’s your Monday Green Apple Slices. Go ask your manager about shifting down to four days and see what happens and then email us, let us know.
Rachel: Good luck with that.
John: Yeah, good luck with that, indeed, and you can check at greenapplepodcast.com, it’s also on iTunes and Stitcher. And yeah, if you could do us a huge favor and maybe review it on either one of those, however you listen, that way we can share with everyone else the fun that we’re having. So thanks so much for listening, have a great rest of the week, Rachel.
Rachel: Yup, see you next Monday.