Time to Read: 6 mins
Four Day Work Week Summary:
- A four day work week refers to a 32-hour work week with the same pay rate as a 40-hour work week.
- Priorities are shifting in the workforce and employees value work-life balance more now than ever.
- There are many benefits to a four day work week for both employees and companies alike.
- Various companies across the globe have adopted a four day work week using a range of models.
The four day work week refers to a typical work week being compressed into 32 hours while employees earn the same salary. This work model is growing in popularity, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding the Motivation for a Four Day Work Week
A few years ago, the 32-hour work week seemed like a radical idea. However, as the workforce grew in flexibility to accommodate life during COVID-19, a four day work week has become an increasingly desirable and feasible idea.
So why is this such a popular idea now? Priorities are shifting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people realized the importance of family time and adequate breaks. Additionally, many employees realized that they could successfully do their jobs from home without commuting into the office five days per week. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen firsthand that alternative working methods can be successful without sacrificing productivity.
Aside from the pandemic, the traditional 40-hour work week has become an unsustainable model for many industries. The 40-hour work week first came about in 1920 when Henry Ford adopted an eight-hour work day, which was shorter than work days during the Industrial Revolution. Following the Great Depression, the government saw this 40-hour work week as a solution to boost employment rates, so it became the norm in 1940.
Although this model was ideal for the jobs during this time period, rapid technology advancements have made the 40-hour work week an outdated model for most industries. Many employees are realizing that they can accomplish the same amount of work within a shorter amount of time, leaving more room for them to enjoy other parts of their lives.
So what are the perks of shifting to an even shorter work week?
32-Hour Work Week Pros
Reduced Carbon Emissions: With a shorter work week, employees will spend less time and energy commuting. Being off an extra day also means one less day offices will need to power their buildings. Over time, this will reduce carbon footprints.
Less Burnout: Providing employees with a substantial amount of leisure time boosts employee morale and productivity. A 32-hour work week regularly allows for more breaks and leisure time, so employees do not feel the need to take long vacations as often. They also get to enjoy a longer weekend, so they feel more refreshed by the time Monday rolls around again.
Greater Productivity and Employee Engagement: Most people are concerned that working less hours would make their employees less productive, but the opposite seems to be the case. With more time to rest and relax, employees are actually more motivated and engaged with their work and can easily accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
Talent Attraction and Retention: With so many job postings across the internet, companies need to do whatever they can to stand out amongst the crowd. Jobs listed as having a shorter work week may seal the deal for candidates looking for their most suitable fit. Additionally, companies that follow a four day work week model have greater employee retention than those that follow the traditional 40-hour work week.
Fewer Health Issues: Since employees have more time to relax on the weekends and enjoy leisure activities, stress is reduced, which ultimately reduces the frequency of illnesses throughout the year. A longer weekend also means more time to for rest and self care, so mental health is also improved amongst employees.
Potential 32-Hour Work Week Cons
Customer and Client Satisfaction: Customers and clients may run into issues if they cannot get in contact with businesses five days of the week. There are various solutions that can solve this issue, such as half of the organization taking off Mondays and the other half Fridays.
Not For Every Business Model: A four day work week may not suit every type of business. Although it may be ideal in theory for everyone, there are just some industries that still work best following a 40-hour work week.
Coverage and Scheduling: As stated before, some companies follow a model where half of the organization is off on Mondays, while the other half is off on Fridays. Although this may help with customer and client satisfaction, it may lead to issues with internal scheduling or impromptu meetings. It can also make it a challenge to get to know every person within the company if the same people are working the same days.
How Can My Company Implement a Four Day Work Week?
There are many great resources and case studies to reference if you are thinking about implementing a 32-hour work week. There are various solutions that can make it work for a vast range of industries and businesses. Below are some great resources:
- 4 Day Week Global is a not-for-profit community encompassing all things surrounding a shorter work week. Their website includes various case studies and many resources detailing implementations of the four day work week, as well as the wide range of benefits that come with it.
- Future of Work: This MIT Sloan Management Review article details what a 4-day work week means for the future of the workforce. This article looks at data and trends surrounding the pandemic and professionals current views of the current work force.
- This Harvard Business Review guide goes over things to consider if you are thinking about shifting to a four day work week. It includes questions to ask your employees and leadership, as well as tips for a pilot program and measuring productivity.
Whether or not your company chooses to adopt a four day work week, it is still important to note the current shifts in the workforce. Many professionals are seeking jobs that allow for greater flexibility and work-life balance, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if your company decides to stick to the 40-hour work week, we still recommend finding other ways enhance your work environment and create a better experience for your employees. After all, the happier your employees are, the more productive they will be, therefore boosting your business!