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4-day work week: how the world’s greatest experiment is changing people’s lives

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The six-month pilot project in the UK involves 3,300 workers in 70 companies working 80% of a normal week. Companies explain how they adapted. And the workers talk about changing lives.

The workers are tired.

More than two years after the pandemic, many burn out“Burned out,” quit their jobs, or struggle to survive as record inflation cuts their pay dramatically.

But over the past eight weeks, thousands of people in the UK have tested a four-day schedule – without a pay cut – that could help usher in a new era of work.

It is the world’s largest four-day work week experience to date. Some workers say they feel happier, healthier and better at their jobs.

“Life Change”

Lisa Gilbert, loan services manager at Charity Bank, an ethical lending bank in the south west of England, describes her new daily routine as “phenomenal”.

“Now I can really enjoy the weekend because I have Friday for housework and other little things or… if I just want to go out with my mom, I can do it now without feeling guilty,” she says. CNN.

Lisa Gilbert, Loan Services Manager at Charity Bank, is enjoying her extra day on the Thames in London.

Gilbert takes care of his son and two elderly parents. The extra day off per week means she no longer has to pick up groceries at 6 am on Saturday and can spend more time with her family. “I think I’m saying ‘yes we can’ rather than ‘no, we’re sorry we can’,” he says.

The six-month pilot project involves 3,300 workers in 70 companies working 80% of their regular week in exchange for a promise to maintain 100% productivity.

The program is being led by non-profit think tank 4 Day Week Global, Autonomy and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, in partnership with researchers from the University of Cambridge, Oxford University and Boston College.

The researchers will measure the impact the new labor standard will have on productivity levels, gender equality, the environment, and the well-being of workers. At the end of November, companies can decide whether to keep the new schedule.

But for Gilbert, the verdict is already in: he “changed lives,” he says.

“Really chaotic”

However, the transition was not without setbacks.

Samantha Losey, managing director of London-based public relations agency Unity, told CNN the first week was “truly chaotic” as her team was unprepared for shorter transfers.

“To be completely honest with you, those first two weeks were a real mess. We were all over the store. I thought I made a huge mistake. I didn’t know what I was doing,” she says.

But his team quickly found ways to make the week work. Now the company has banned all internal meetings lasting more than five minutes, all meetings with clients are limited to 30 minutes, and in order to avoid unnecessary disruptions, they have introduced a “traffic light” system – colleagues have a traffic light on their desk, and they turn it on. to “green” if they are available to talk, “orange” if they are busy but able to talk, and “red” if they don’t want to be interrupted.

PR agency Unity in London has implemented a “traffic light” system: Employees have a traffic light on their desktop that they switch to “green” if they want to talk and to “orange” if they are busy but available to talk. speak and “red” if they don’t want to be interrupted.

By week four, Losey said her team had done their best, but she admits there is “absolutely” a chance she could recover the five-day schedule if performance levels dropped during the six-month trial period.

“There’s a good 25% chance we won’t be able to keep it. [a semana de quatro dias]but the team is still incredibly fighting for her,” she said.

“Like a library”

Until last month, Iceland was running the world’s largest four-day workweek pilot project. Between 2015 and 2019, the country sent 2,500 public sector workers on two trials.

It is important to note that these experiments did not lead to a corresponding drop in productivity and a dramatic improvement in the welfare of workers.

Gary Conroy, founder and CEO of 5 Squirrels, a skincare manufacturer on the south coast of England, has brought in the concept of “deep hours” to keep his employees productive.

Gary Conroy (right), founder and CEO of 5 Squirrels, a skincare manufacturer, has established “deep working hours” at his company to boost productivity.

For two hours each morning and two hours each day, Conroy’s team ignores emails, calls, or messages from teams and focuses on their projects.

“The whole office is like a library and everyone just lowers their heads and breaks their work,” he said.

According to a survey of 10,600 workers conducted by Asana last September, people spend most of their day in “busy work” mode – they really work for the sake of work. A software company found that workers in the United States spend about 58% of their day doing activities like answering emails and attending meetings rather than doing the job they were hired for.

Meetings at the company used to be a “conversation” but are now limited to 30 minutes and only allowed for two hours outside of “business hours,” Conroy said.

The results exceeded all expectations.

“[A equipa] began to realize that they were crushing projects that they had always put on the back burner,” Conroy said.

“Relevant to the 21st century”

The extra day has given many workers the opportunity to pursue new hobbies, pursue long-held ambitions, or simply spend more time in their relationships.

The workers in the pilot took cooking classes, piano lessons, volunteering, fishing and ice skating, their employers told CNN.

For Emily Morrison, director of customer experience at Unity, who has struggled with anxiety for most of her adult life, the benefits were more fundamental.

“More downtime and fewer weekend fears helped me improve my mental health and approach the week with more positivity rather than stress,” he told CNN.

Emily Morrison is the Account Director at Unity, a public relations agency based in London, UK.

More than two years after the pandemic, dozens of workers have reached their breaking point. A survey last year by McKinsey of 5,000 employees around the world found that almost half of them reported feeling at least a little burnt out. [“burned-out”].

Losey said one of the main reasons he decided to bring Unity into the pilot project was to compensate for the “extreme burnout” his people experienced during the worst of the pandemics.

Mark Howland, director of marketing and communications for Charity Bank, told CNN he uses his day off to improve his health and fitness. He always wanted to compete in a triathlon, but felt guilty about spending time away from his family to train. Not now.

“On my day off, I would ride my bike for a long time, take care of myself, find time, and then spend the whole weekend doing household chores and spending time with my family,” Howland said.

It is unlikely that the bank will return to what it was before.

“The five-day work week is a 20th century concept that no longer fits the 21st century,” he concluded.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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