The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek

The world's largest 4-day workweek trial ran within the U.K. in 2022.

The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek

Henry Ford's five-day workweek was considered in 1926 to be revolutionary when it offered his employees the weekend free. He was incredibly generous to do that, don't you think? A short time after, in 1932, the five-day work week was finally established for all employees throughout the United States. However, after nearly 100 years of the Ford's "radical" idea -- what is the next innovation in workplaces -- the four-day working week?

But, many companies across all sectors have experimented with the idea of four-day working weeks across the world. In New Zealand, consumer-goods corporation Unilever has implemented a 12 month trial run of a shorter working week. The four-day work week began to take place for Spain beginning in the month of March 2021, after a dozen companies took part in an experiment. The crowdfunding company Kickstarter will try out the four-day working week with its employees in 2022. In 2022, the home improvement store Lowe's has adopted an eight-day work week.

However, it's not the only thing. Scotland, Iceland, Japan, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates all have pilot programs for a four-day workweek being developed. In addition, Democratic Congressman Mark Takano introduced legislation cutting the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours within the United States.

All eyes are on U.K.

To find out if it is feasible to replicate the model and is supported within America, United States, over 3,300 employees and 70 British firms were involved in the trial at the U.K.

Based on Eagle Hill Consulting, 83 percent of respondents agreed having a four-day week could decrease burnout. In an Joblist poll 90% of job applicants stated that they would prefer a four-day work week. Did the research support these claims? This is what the study revealed:

  • As per 51% employees they are able to complete their work to the fullest extent in just 40 hours or less.
  • 85 percent of survey responses, respondents stated that it was logistically feasible to work for four days per week
  • A work week of four days was noted as an advantage in 94% those who responded
  • About 25% of full time workers would think about a week of four days as a trade-off for a pay reduced

So far, so good. However, is a week-long workweek actually an ideal idea? Let's consider the benefits and disadvantages.

What is a Four-Day Workweek?

Before we get overboard, lets take an overview of what a typical four-day workweek is.

You can work up to 32 hours in a four-day week without losing the productivity, pay or other benefits. There might be a Monday-through-Thursday work week with Fridays off -- depending on the industry and the company. Or, employees could select their third day off or the company may have the option of a third day off policy for Wednesdays or Mondays.

Each option has advantages and disadvantages. If everyone works simultaneously, collaborative work can be improved. However, the business will be not staffed, whereas the majority of other companies are. Employees may want an unstructured third day of vacation, but teams might struggle to cope with this.

It's not exactly normal to have a week of four days. In the last century however, we've slowly reduced the hours we work each week.

The year 1890 the time of full-time employment, employees at a plant for manufacturing employed on average 100 hours per week as per the United States government. However, by the middle of the 20th century, employees in the manufacturing industry were working an average of 40 hours per week. Therefore, as drastic as it might seem the idea of reducing our workweek to 28 hours isn't so drastic as it might appear.

The Pros of a Four-Day Workweek

In a study published from the Atlantic The Atlantic, those who work a full-time schedule report that they're happier, healthier more relaxed, and happier. This is why their employers have reported they have more efficient and more focused. Furthermore, 94% of employees report a feeling of happiness when they know they are valued by their employers. In addition, according to research, it's advised not to work for more than 4 hours in a day.

The most important benefits of working a four-day week are listed below.

Productivity increases.

The relation with efficiency and working hours was examined at Sanford University. It was discovered that people who work on a schedule that is too busy are more productive than people working a an established work schedule.

In a study that was conducted by the New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian and four-day workweeks were examined. Along with maintaining their productivity levels, employees increased their overall satisfaction at work and teamwork, as well as their work/life balance and loyalty to the business. Additionally, there was the reduction in stress from 48% to 38 percent for employees.

Norway, Denmark, Germany Denmark, Norway, Germany and Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands together with a few of the most productive nations have an average work schedule of 27 hours per week, exactly the same as the hours recommended for a 4-day work day in U.K. However, Japan, a country known for its overworked workers is ranked 20th of 35 nations in terms of productivity. Actually, Japan's four-day workweek experiment has resulted in a 40 percent increase on productivity.

Well-being for both mental and physical health is enhanced.

There are many positive side effects experienced by employees who work less days in a week. If it's exercise or completing a master's degree earlier, participating in more volunteer work or having a balanced balance between work and life The measures mentioned above can assist. It also can boost a worker's productivity. "I like to take walks ... just wander and let my brain breathe," Natalie Nagele, Wildbit CEO spoke to the Atlantic.

A balanced lifestyle can reduce stress for parents who have children. Additionally, they get to are more likely to be with their family members. Additionally caregivers of elderly parents can assist them. "One of the biggest factors in people's level of work-family satisfaction is the pure number of work hours they have," Melissa Milkie, sociologist at the University of Toronto who studies the use of time, said to the Atlantic. "So cutting it is huge ... It would re-balance things for working families."

"I am able to enjoy my weekend today because I have my Friday to do chores, and other pieces and pieces, or... If I'd like to take my mother out for a stroll I'm free to do it and not feel guilty about it, Lisa Gilbert, a lender services manager for Charity Bank, told CNN Business.

In addition to taking care of her daughter and two elderly parents, Gilbert gets an extra day off per week and can be more with her family.

"I find that I'm saying 'yes we can as opposed to 'no, sorry we can't,'" she declared.

Increased motivation.

A shorter or less gruelling week could inspire the employees. Like all benefits, they're seen as an opportunity for the business to help its employees during and off work hours.

Additionally, the lack of these programs can motivate your employees to put in the effort to earn these programs or to keep them.

It has increased employee engagement.

employees are likely to be happy and motivated if they are given the option of taking four days off every week. They can take the time needed to recover and relax so that they can be confident and ready to assume new duties.

A study carried out by Sweden between 2015 and 2017 examined the effect of shorter work days on nurses. Nurses worked only for six hours per day, five days per week. It was found that nurses had less absences, had higher healthand were engaged with patients with 85 percent more.

Costs reduced.

More than fifty percent, 51% of the business executives interviewed at Henley Business School said they had saved money on utilities and facilities, and more than two-thirds said they had seen an increase in productivity.

The downtime is cut.

Employees can take an additional day off in addition to normal business hours to plan personal requirements. In turn, they are able to attend doctor's appointments or others appointments while on the normal day off, without having to take off from working. In the study 62% of leaders in the business world claim that less sick days are used.

We have increased the attraction of employees and retention.

It's been reported that advertisements for jobs that offer working hours of four days have tripled in the past 5 years. A post-pandemic challenge could see the trend persist. As demand for talent increases the top job-seekers are seeking the most lucrative possibilities.

In addition, focusing on wellbeing as well as avoiding burning out is essential in retaining employees. In the 2020 Gallup surveyof more than 10,000 employees employed on four days a week had the lowest rate of burnout. When it comes to employees who worked a 4-day working week, 63% said they had positive wellbeing.

A smaller carbon footprint.

In countries that have shorter working time, the carbon footprint is generally lower. So, cutting down the length of our working week from 5 days to 4 days may also provide positive environmental effects. Additionally that, a shorter work week makes it easier for employees to commute and also means that big office buildings have less time idle.

State employees in Utah have shown the environmental impacts of decreasing the length of work week from five days to four by reducing their work hours during a study conducted in the state. The state government estimated that $1.8 million were saved on energy costs by closing the massive workplace on Fridays. Additionally, the state estimates that it could reduce 12,000 tonnes of CO2by taking one day off every week, or eliminating 2,300 vehicles from the road for a year.

The Cons of a Four-Day Workweek

It's the truth that a 4-day work week is a great way to reap many benefits. But it also has some disadvantages that should not be overlooked. For instance, the research which involved Swedish nurses revealed that the program was not economically viable in the long term.

There is a price.

Some people argue that hiring employees could be costly with working for four days in a week. The U.S., as in other countries, employers give full-time employees more than their annual wage. They also offer benefits such as pensions and health insurance. In the end, employers might not be able hire more workers to fill the shorter working hours.

Furthermore the majority of workers in many nations prefer to work fewer days in a week, or working fewer hours - to earn an increase in their salary. YouGov and HuffPost conducted a survey of about 50 percent of American workers in 2014 and found they'd be willing to work an extra day per week for 20percent more in salary. Part-time workers were also more likely to take the move.

It reduced customer satisfaction.

Despite offering some excellent environmental outcomes and benefits for employees and employers The Utah study was canceled because of negative consumer feedback. Due to the fact that government offices were closed on Fridays complained that they couldn't access services provided by the government.

But, businesses can increase satisfaction with their customers through making use of technology like chatbots, AI-powered websites and chatbots. How? by giving customers a second option for assistance instead of relying only on the employees.

It is not for everyone to take part.

A work schedule that is four days long can be difficult to implement in certain sectors that require 24-hour availability. A week of four days could, for instance, make it challenging for your business to deal with customer service issues.

The business must confront issues on weekends and weekdays regardless of business. But, planning and thinking ahead are essential to manage all aspects of company's operations during the working day.

Scheduling conflicts.

Working schedules can be complicated due to the requirement for your team members to help clients or other members of the team. Additionally, this could make the task of finding a suitable coverage during work hours a major challenge.

Additionally, internal scheduling may cause problems in managing client needs. For instance meeting times that are scheduled can be scheduled ahead of time during the course of the workweek. However the impromptu or emergency meeting could be more troublesome.

Furthermore, when employees are not working can't participate in meetings for brainstorming, there could be little input. The frequency of these events within an organization can decide if a work week of four days is feasible.

Workers could still be working similar amounts of work.

In some instances, reducing hours might not be practical for certain job positions. One example is that a study in France observed that employees put into the same number of hours, regardless of their day-to-day schedule. So , what's the biggest difference? Overtime expenses were added to the company's expense.

Additional stress.

There's nothing more satisfying than a three-day weekend Is there? Most businesses structure their 4-day week in this manner (Mondays and Fridays are off). To ensure that this benefit is maintained it is necessary to be more productive on the 'on' days in order so that you don't waste the days that are off.

A majority of respondents said that having the four-day schedule helped to maintain a balance between work and life. Thus, having a flexible schedule can be beneficial. However, if the work part causes stress, it may prove to be a waste of time.

Should You Adopt a Four-Day Workweek?

There are numerous benefits when it comes to reducing the length of workweeks like an increase in productivity and more time to pursue interests that are personal to you. But there are also disadvantages there are some businesses, industries or even individuals do not do well on a 4-day schedule. Furthermore, it's unlikely to be able to fix all the problems with toxic workplaces or unattractive work.

The COVID-19 epidemic caused a rethinking of the work environment around the world that has prompted a surge of the demand for four-day workweeks. In the end, we have to alter our outlook and the way we think about it to allow it to become the new norm, eliminate the importance of work, and consider tasks that are able to be automated, devalued and even eliminated.

If you'd like to give a week-long workweek that spans four days to see how it goes, think about the following options:

  • Define your goals clearly
  • Be sure that your goals can be achieved within a short work week
  • Prioritization of tasks is essential and reviewed
  • Work asynchronously
  • Limit interruptions and distractions to at a minimal
  • Don't count hours, instead determine outcomes.
  • Automate other tasks
  • Create a culture that values human imagination
  • Social events that are based on work should be restricted
  • Meetings should be shortened and the length of meetings should be reduced
  • Pay employees in the same way as they normally do
  • Continuously seek feedback from employees
  • Don't be a micromanager for your team.
  • Try it out and learn from your mistakes