One of the questions people regularly ask about the 4-day week is whether it’s just something that professional and creatives can implement, or whether care workers, blue collar workers, and manufacturing can do it as well.

In an era that’s seen huge income inequality, the rapid rise of gig work, and a pandemic that’s revealed the stubbornness of workplace inequity and Jost how poorly-valued “essential work” often is, it’s good that the question comes up. In a fair society (or economy), a 4-day week should be accessible to everyone, not just something that the well-education and well-heeled get to buy. (Indeed, one notable aspect of Richard Nixon’s 1956 speech on the 4-day week was that he envisioned it as an expression of a “people’s capitalism” that delivered for all.)

One of the things I talk about in my book SHORTER is how restaurants, nursing homes, and factories, have found ways to reduce working hours. Of course, the way they implement a shorter workweek is different than the way offices do it, but it’s still within the reach of more companies than you’d expect.

One of the best examples of a blue-collar company finding success through shorter working hours is the Toyota repair center in Gothenburg, Sweden, where the mechanics have worked 6-hour days since 2003. Martin Banck, an executive with Toyota in Sweden, gave a talk in 2015 that explained how they made the shift, and how they benefitted. It’s well worth a listen (though if like me you don’t speak Swedish, you’ll want to turn on the subtitles):

The presentation does a great job laying out how a shorter workweek works in a very non-office context, and gives a hint of how the economics of manufacturing and repairs make shorter days viable. An office or creative studio wouldn’t get exactly the same kinds of savings for the same reasons; but they all do benefit.