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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One of the pandemic's longer-term impacts on how we work could be the end of the five-day, 9-to-5 workweek.

What's happening: For many companies, these past few months have been a period of rapid experimentation — and some are finding that shorter workdays and four-day weeks can work quite well.

1. Shorter days: The gap between when the school day typically ends — 3pm — and when the workday ends — 5 pm — "is grossly unfair to working parents," Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at UPenn's Wharton School, writes in the Economist.

  • "If more of us end up working remotely after the pandemic, there is one change that could make work better: ending the misalignment between the school day and the work day," he writes.
  • Parents juggling work and child care while telecommuting are already bearing burdens their colleagues are not, and shortening the workday to 3pm would take away a great deal of stress.
  • Grant notes: "Take it from someone who studies work for a living: we can be every bit as creative and productive in six focused hours a day as in twice as many distracted hours."

2. Shorter weeks: Firms have been experimenting with four-day workweeks during the coronavirus crisis.

  • Some are doing it so they can reduce pay and cut costs. And others are doing it to ensure their employees don't get too stressed or burned out during these times.
  • But the four-day workweek could outlast the pandemic. About one-third of U.S. employers already offer shorter weeks, NBC reports, and more could follow suit.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases increase in 17 states

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections ticked up slightly over the past week, thanks to scattered outbreaks in every region of the country.

Where it stands: The U.S. has been making halting, uneven progress against the virus since August. Overall, we're moving in the right direction, but we're often taking two steps forward and one step back.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
15 mins ago - Economy & Business

Coinbase opens at $102 billion valuation on first day of public trading

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase opened trading on Wednesday at $381 per share, giving it a fully diluted market value of around $102 billion.

Why it matters: This is a slight premium to the most recent private trades for Coinbase stock, and more than 50% higher than the reference price set last night by the Nasdaq.

47 mins ago - World

U.S. intelligence expects a stormy year in the Middle East

A technical team explodes remnant ammunition near Sirte, Libya. Photo: Mohammed Ertima/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Ongoing conflicts, economic crises and the fallout from COVID-19 will likely destabilize several countries in the Middle East in 2021 and could even put some on the brink of collapse, according to the U.S. intelligence community's annual Threat Assessment Report, released on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The report is the most comprehensive assessment the intelligence community produces every year. It paints a portrait of conflicts, insurgencies, terrorism and protest movements across the Middle East.