Rethinking the workweek: Results from a longitudinal time-use study of a 30-hour workweek experiment

Francisca Mullens, Julie Verbeylen, Ignace Glorieux

shorter workweek, time-use, working hours reduction, 30-hour workweek

In 2019, Femma vzw, a Belgian women’s organisation, as an experiment, implemented a 30-hour workweek within the organisation. For a period of 12 months, all full-time employees switched from a 36-hour workweek to a 30-hour workweek. During this experiment, a longitudinal time-use study into the impact of the working time reduction on the working life and private life of these employees was carried out. The study included five waves of data collection before, during and after the experiment over a period of two and a half years. Each wave consisted of an online 7-day time use diary, a pre-diary questionnaire and a post-diary questionnaire. This research report discusses the first general findings of the study, using the first four waves. Some key findings are: the employees had clear wishes and expectations about what they wanted to do with their extra time at the start of the 30-hour workweek. Above all, the wish for more personal time was high. Most employees took this extra time as one additional non-working day per week, namely Wednesday or Friday. The extra free hours mostly were spent on household work, care and personal care, although this was not exactly what they wished for. However, employees did experience less household stress, less leisure time pressure and a better work-life balance.