Pandemic ignites debate over four-day workweek - Korea Times
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Pandemic ignites debate over four-day workweek

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By Bahk Eun-ji

The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has ignited discussion here over reducing the workweek to four days, to help people maintain a work-life balance, a recent survey showed.

Of 1,000 respondents aged between 19 and 59, 67.1 percent said that they were willing to work for a company that can enable them to maintain their work-life balance, according to a recent survey conducted by the Seoul-based market research firm, Macromill Embrain Trend Monitor.

Above all, the fact that 64.9 percent of respondents said that achieving their personal life goals is more important than being recognized at work, makes it seem like work-life balance will likely be an important consideration for people to choose a job in the future.

On the other hand, only 28.4 percent of the respondents said that they wanted a high-paying job that requires them to work overtime, showing that not many workers want to work overtime at the expense of their personal lives.

Overall, it can be seen that the social consensus around the introduction of a four-day workweek system is gradually increasing.

In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been going on since last year, rekindled the need for the system. Six out of 10 people, or 58.1 percent, said that they agreed with the need to introduce the system after the coronavirus outbreak.

Figures for office workers who think the current work system needs to be improved mostly decreased as their ages increased, with the highest representation being among those in their 20s at 61.6 percent, in their 30s at 61.2 percent, in their 40s at 52.4 percent, and in their 50s at 57.2 percent.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, flexible work systems, including telecommuting or working from home, seem to have led many to think that there is no need to be tied to the existing work style as the only one. Fifty-four percent of respondents across the board answered that it is necessary to stop viewing the five-day work week system as the standard system.

When multiple answers were allowed, a change in "social awareness" was the most necessary condition for the establishment of a four-day workweek in Korea in the future.

Considering the fact that 69.3 percent of all respondents said that a new system could be established the social perception of working hours is changing, it seems necessary to start by recognizing the problem of excessive work hours, or working too much.

About 49.5 percent of the respondents said that the establishment of such a system requires consensus among executives and employees, 44.8 percent said that an exact handover and backup system is needed, and 38.2 percent said that the process of reporting work completed should be simplified.

Bahk Eun-ji

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