For a long time now, le Centre des jeunes dirigeants d'entreprise (Centre for Young CEOs) has been a hatchery of ideas and experiments to improve the match between business performance and social progress. In a document published in October 1995, Vers l'entreprise à la carte (Toward the Flexible Enterprise) the Center stressed the need to adopt new ways of organizing work that reflect social mutations, with special focus on effective working conditions under the reduced work week.
Although he had some reservations about the constrictive nature of the
35-hour week legislation, the Centre nevertheless approached it on an experimental basis. Five hundred firms (a quarter of the total) launched a nine-month experiment during which they explored ways to implement
the 35-hour week, recorded the opportunities and obstacles they encountered and inferred lessons from the experiment.
The post-mortem on this experiment has just been published by the Centre under the title "Pour les 35 heures
à la carte. Contributions au débat parlementaire" (In Favor of a Flexible 35 Hour Week. Contributions to the Parliamentary Debate). Its national president, Laurent Degroote, introduces the report by underlining the fact
that the 35-hour week doesn't work
for everyone, reinforcing the belief of the CEOs that the flexible model is most suitable, given the diversity of enterprises. Gilles Cazes and Michel Drancourt agreed to read and comment on the document for Futuribles. They share with us here the lessons they infer.