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Startup leaders remain mixed on Maryland’s proposed bill for a 4-Day workweek

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill to reward companies with a state tax credit for implementing a four-day workweek for a year as part of a pilot program. Here’s how three people working at Maryland-based companies feel about it.

The Maryland State House in Annapolis. (Photo by Flickr user Craig Fildes, used via a Creative Commons license)

A new bill on the table in Maryland, which aims to give local companies the chance to try out a four-day workweek, has sparked a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism from startup leaders throughout the state.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Four-Day Workweek Act of 2023 would reward companies that implement a four-day workweek with up to $750,000 in tax credits annually. Employees would work 32 hours a week while maintaining the same salary and benefits. The goal is to help companies attract and retain talent while boosting morale and energy among employees.

Maryland’s proposed bill could help companies overcome inertia around experimenting with a four-day workweek.  The tax credit is designed to compensate companies for a possible loss in productivity. More importantly, proponents of the bill hope a state-wide pilot would generate data to help employers determine whether a four-day workweek makes sense.

“It’s going to be really hard for me to persuade my colleagues that the time is now for this idea of the only data we have comes from Scotland,” said Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-19th District), one of the bill’s main sponsors, in a recent interview with The Atlantic (and yes, Scotland is in Maryland — specifically a small town in St. Mary’s County).

Headshots of Eden Rodriguez, Rick Leimbach and Tara Marshall-Hill in grey and black clothing

(L to R) Eden Rodriguez, Rick Leimbach and Tara Marshall-Hill. (Courtesy photos, composite image created in Canva)

The new bill has inspired a range of reactions throughout the state’s startups and related companies. Eden Rodriguez, head of people operations at EcoMap Technologies in Baltimore (and a 2022 RealLIST Startup), applauded the state for starting the conversation about the future of work and reimagining a more flexible workplace. She encouraged companies to consider the impact of a four-day workweek on company culture and tailor hours to individual circumstances.

“At EcoMap, it is about getting the work done, as opposed to the number of hours,” Rodriguez said.

Some companies in the US, Japan, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have already seen the desired benefits while implementing four-day workweek pilots, including improved employee well-being without a loss in productivity. According to a report by The New York Times,  most companies in the pilots did not see a drop in productivity, and some companies saw a significant improvement. Several media outlets reported in 2019 that Microsoft Japan’s own pilot saw productivity increase by about 40%.

Still, some local founders are hesitant to make such a huge change in their company’s day-to-day operations. Tara Marshall-Hill, founder of Sindano Health in Clarksville, does not believe a four-day workweek is feasible for her as an early-stage founder, mother and spouse. The same goes for people who may identify as neurodivergent, she said.

“Not everyone is neurotypical and not everyone’s brains work the same way,” Marshall-Hill said. “Some people can be hyperfocused and productive with fewer hours whereas other people need more hours.”

Rick Leimbach, the founder of Westminster-based coworking space and consultancy Startup Portal, said that a four-day workweek will look different for each company, so it’s hard to tell how Maryland companies will be affected.

“It is very difficult to assess the impact of a four-day work week in general terms,” Leimback said. “It depends on the business model of an organization and its ability to create efficiency in losing 400-plus hours per employee a year.”

What do you think about this four-day workweek bill? Have you implemented similar things at your company? Let us know by emailing hua.wang@technical.ly

Companies: EcoMap Technologies / State of Maryland

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