Amazon tries 30-hour workweek

Posted at 1:18 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 12:54:50-04

SEATTLE —Tired of your 40-plus hour workweek? If you're like most Americans, it's really closer to 50, right? Well, it might be time to ship yourself somewhere new. is testing out 30-hour work weeks. Sounds like a dream, right? Not so fast. With the reduced hours comes reduced pay — just 75 percent of what regular full-timers earn.  But with full-time benefits.

"I would be okay with taking a little bit less," says avid Houston cyclist Simon Nguyen, "to be able to live life a little bit more."

"I think it's good and bad," says Ivory Bickham, who points out not every family can afford a 25 percent paycut. "I think for each individual, they would just have to weigh it and see if it works for their family or not."

This switch could be in response to that New York Times story last year that claimed the company leaned on salaried staff to work 80-plus hours a week. And employees, the paper reported, were regularly seen crying at their desks.

Or maybe it's just a way to diversify their staff a bit. "As Amazonians, it is important for us to incorporate a diversity of perspectives in what we do," explained Laura Grit with Amazon's Women in Engineering group at a recent conference, "so we can bring together those diverse views and experiences, to create better products and services for our diverse customers."

Right now, Amazon's workforce is made up of 76 percent men, so 30-hour weeks would be a lot more doable for moms taking care of kids. Whatever the case, this isn't a company-wide change. Only a few dozen people will be part of this pilot program.

If it goes well, though, it just might make big business rethink the 40-hour workweek. And tip those work/life balancing scales back in our favor.