+
Belgium approves four-day work week—but then takes work-life balance even a step further
Canva

More and more countries and companies are experimenting with a four-day work week.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, most people who were able to work from home did. Along with that shift to remote work came a blurrier line between home life and work life—in a society where that line can be quite fuzzy as it is.

Constant connectedness via the internet has contributed to people's difficulties in disconnecting from work. It's far too easy to think about something work-related and shoot off a message to an employee or a co-worker no matter the time of day. In some ways, this ability makes work easier. The problem is that it also makes it easy to not have true time "off."

Everyone needs time off, even people who enjoy their work. And now, in a series of labor reforms, one country is making it easier for everyone to create a healthier work-life balance for themselves.

First, Belgium joins several other nations in approving a four-day work week. Employees can request a six-month period of condensing a 38-hour work week (full time) into four days instead of five. Same pay, same number of hours, just shifted into four days so that every weekend is a three-day weekend. After the six months are up, they can continue with the four-day week or return to five.


"The period of six months was chosen so that an employee would not be stuck for too long in case of a wrong choice," a government representative told Euronews Next.

According to Forbes, if an employer wants to deny an employee's request for a four-day work week, they have to justify the reasoning for their denial in writing.

Another reform designed to enhance work-life balance allows employees to ignore messages from employers outside of work hours without fear of reprisal. This right to disconnect has already been granted to government employees as of January, but the new law will apply in the private sector as well, for all companies with 20 or more employees. Workers can turn off their work phones during nonworking hours and cannot be reprimanded for not responding to work communications outside of work hours.

"The boundary between work and private life is becoming increasingly porous," Belgian labor minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne said. "These incessant demands can harm the physical and mental health of the worker."

The reforms also include provisions for insurance for gig workers, such as Uber drivers and take-out delivery persons, as well as clarifying what counts as self-employment.

Other countries have been experimenting with and implementing shortened work weeks with success. Iceland spent 2015-2019 trying out a 35- to 36-hour work week without any drop in pay and found that worker well-being soared while productivity remained steady or in some case increased. Now some 86% of the population works shorter hours or are gaining the right to work shorter hours. Scotland, Spain and Japan are also trialing abbreviated work weeks, and so are many large companies and organizations.

Here in the U.S., California congressman Mark Takano has introduced legislation that would change the full-time work week from 40 hours to 32 hours, citing the impact of and learnings from the pandemic as an opportunity to create a "new normal."

"I care about making capitalism sustainable and more humane — and less low road and less cutthroat," Takano told Business Insider. He said that the huge number of deaths during the pandemic has been traumatizing and has made people reevaluate their relationships with their jobs.

"This much stronger connection to human mortality has made people value their time," Takano said. "I think there was a Great Realization among a lot of Americans — how hard they're working and that they wanted to move on from the jobs that they were working at. So a four-day work week is something that connects a lot of Americans."

The legislation has yet to see a vote, but the idea is popular among Americans. In a survey from financial firm Jefferies, 80% of respondents supported the idea of a four-day work week, while only 3% were actively opposed to the idea. Another survey of 4,000 workers conducted by Good Hire found that 83% of respondents would prefer a four-day work week.

Considering that the experiments with four-day work weeks have found increased productivity and employee well-being, perhaps the biggest hill to get over with the idea is simply the idea itself. Change is hard and can be scary. But there's nothing magical about five 8-hour days versus four 10-hour days. And we're even finding that there's nothing magical about 40 hours a week versus 32 hours a week. More isn't always better, and if people get the time that they need to be healthy and happy, they're more likely to put more energy into their work, thereby being more productive with the time spent on the job.

Of course, not all industries or organizations can make it work, but for those who can, it's definitely worth a shot. In the meantime, let's keep watching Belgium and the other countries implementing shorter work weeks to see what we can learn from their experiences.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

Keep ReadingShow less
via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less