Do working days vary in different parts of the world?
Business days and work weeks have very different definitions around the world. These variations may be the result of labor practices in that country, traditions, religious observances, and more. For example, the United States and much of Europe adopted a Saturday-Sunday weekend because the Christian day of rest and religious observance is Sunday. In the Jewish tradition, however, the day of rest, Saturday, is observed on Saturday. Because of this, in Israel they have a weekend from Friday to Saturday, and return to work on Sunday.
That being said, it did take some time to get to a two-day weekend. Until the 19th century, most people worked every day of the week, except for the day of worship, which was Sunday in the Christian tradition. It was only with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the working class that the two-day weekend became popular. In the United States, one of the first major companies to adopt the five-day work week was Henry Ford, who moved to a 40-hour week in 1926.
However, the one day weekend is still alive and well. Nepal observes only one Saturday weekend, while Djibouti, Iran, Palestine, and Somalia only have one day off on Friday.
What about the four-day work week?
A debate that has arisen recently is about the number of days that should be in a work week. Some companies have begun experimenting with a four-day work week, arguing that people get more done, more efficiently, in that amount of time.
In 2018, a New Zealand accounting firm, Perpetual Guardian, cut its 40-hour work week to 32 hours, with employees only coming in four days a week. They had two researchers study the effects on their 240 employees.
The researchers found that productivity increased at the company during the time of the shortest work weeks, saying that employees reported a 24% lifetime in work life balance.
A similar study in Sweden had an entire city change a work day from eight hours to six and found that people got the same amount of work done in that time, and possibly even more work done. This idea is not entirely new either: in France, they lowered a work week to 35 hours in the year 2000.
We’ve covered business days, work weeks, business hours, and how they can vary around the world. Let’s go to some common questions on the subject.
1. Are holidays considered business days?
No. Holidays do not count as business days in most cultures. What gets interesting is what classifies something as a holiday. In the United States, there are 11 observed federal holidays or “holidays,” which are official holidays of the Federal Reserve.
Other industries may define holidays differently, and many people have to work on federal holidays. But for official scheduling purposes, at least in the United States, federal holidays do not count as business days.
2. What federal holidays are observed in the United States?
Below is the list of federal holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- washington birthday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- columbus day
- Veterans Day
3. If I order something at 7 p.m. on a business day and the next business day is promised, will I get it the next day?
Most likely not. The definition of a business day generally has an end at 5 p.m. — This can vary by time zone, but generally in the United States it refers to Eastern Time. If you order something at 7pm, that won’t count for that current day. The next business day will probably be two days away, in that case.