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Reducing hours without reducing pay would reignite an essential but long-forgotten moral project: making American life less about work

Source | | Joe Pinsker

The 89 people who work at Buffer, a company that makes social-media management tools, are used to having an unconventional employer. Everyone’s salary, including the CEO’s, is public. All employees work remotely; their only office closed down six years ago. And as a perk, Buffer pays for any books employees want to buy for themselves.

So perhaps it is unsurprising that last year, when the pandemic obliterated countless workers’ work-life balance and mental health, Buffer responded in a way that few other companies did: It gave employees an extra day off each week, without reducing pay—an experiment that’s still running a year later. “It has been such a godsend,” Essence Muhammad, a customer-support agent at Buffer, told me.

Miraculously—or predictably, if you ask proponents of the four-day workweek—the company seemed to be getting the same amount of work done in less time. It had scaled back on meetings and social events, and employees increased the pace of their day. Nicole Miller, who works in human resources at Buffer, also cited “the principle of work expanding to the time you give it”: When we have 40 hours of work a week, we find ways to work for 40 hours. Buffer might never go back to a five-day week.

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