Game Freak has announced it's introducing an optional 4-day work week for some of its employees. The Game Freak 4-day work week will allow eligible employees to take an extra day off a week to tend to children or family matters, although they'll have to take a pay cut.
How will the Game Freak 4-day work week operate?
Following in the footsteps of companies like Eidos Montreal, the Game Freak 4-day work week will allow employees to choose to work only 4 days out of 5 in the week if they prefer. According to Automaton Media (translating from the original Japanese press release), employees with an elementary school-age child, or those who need to care for a family member, will be eligible for the 4-day work week and will be able to drop a day in the week to tend to their obligations.
Of course, there's a catch. If employees do decide to take advantage of the 4-day work week, they'll be paid 80% of their standard salary for the period during which they're dropping the fifth day. This is arguably therefore not a true 4-day working week, but it's still a start. In addition, employees can choose to opt into the 4-day week on a month-by-month basis, so if they find themselves freer during a certain month, they can work a 5-day week again if they choose. It's also worth stressing that this is an optional program, so employees don't have to take advantage of it if they don't want to.
Is the gaming industry getting better at looking after its employees?
There's been a lot written recently about the gaming industry's mistreatment of its employees. Whether it's major gaming companies' distaste for unionization or employees alleging harassment and poor working conditions, there's an increasing amount of evidence regarding the industry's need to treat its workers better. Of course, industry heads are making token noises about improving conditions for their employees, but we'll have to wait and see whether conditions really do improve at some of the world's most prominent gaming studios.
Initiatives like Game Freak's 4-day working week (however many caveats there might be around it), as well as pay raises at companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco, certainly feel like a step in the right direction. However, it's difficult to extrapolate serious improvement across the industry from these cases, however major they may be. Here's hoping that more companies see the benefits of the 4-day working week and consider implementing it themselves in the near future.