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Shorter work week: Chilean firm joins global trend to ease 'stress pandemic'

05/07/2021 12:23
Shorter work week: Chilean firm joins global trend to ease 'stress pandemic'

- A Chilean career services firm has slashed its work week to four days starting on Friday, joining a global trend to combat fatigue from working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santiago-based firm People&Partners said it was inspired to make the move after Chile's mass protests in 2019, followed by economic hardships from the pandemic, took a toll on its employees.

"We are facing a potential stress pandemic as well," said Carmen Luz Morales, the company's general manager. "With telecommuting, many people work far more hours than they did before. We hope it becomes contagious so that other companies can review their policies."

Companies around the world that shortened their work week say it boosts productivity, motivates staff and reduces burnout. Many have adopted more flexible work policies that they hope will pay financial and mental health dividends.

Santiago, Chile's capital of 6 million people, has endured months of quarantine since the coronavirus struck the South American nation in March 2020, leaving many high-rise towers vacant, streets quiet and workers at home.

"This is not a normal situation," said Andrea Kannegiesser, who has worked with People&Partners for three years. "We are surviving a pandemic while we work, so companies also have to worry a little about our welfare."

Citigroup Inc C.N last month declared "Zoom-Free Fridays" and encouraged employees to limit calls outside work hours. nL4N2LL3GL

Every little bit counts, said Chilean labor psychologist Raul Berrios. "Any measure that contributes to generating better working conditions has a positive impact on people's mental health."

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Richard Chang)

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