What would a four-day workweek look like for the modern employee and business?
By Lacy Wolff-Ewing
Over 100 years ago, society dictated the 40-hour workweek. While our society, culture, and lifestyles have significantly changed since then, our workweeks have not. Many individuals find they do not have time during weekdays to catch up on errands, have a social life, and take care of household duties or even themselves. Instead, we have to rush to do these things on our two days off while trying to relax and recover for our next workday.
This is where the four-day workweek comes into play. Four-day workweeks have grown in popularity; it would allow individuals an extra day to take care of those necessary to-do’s leaving the weekend available to properly rest, take care of oneself, and have a reasonable work-life balance, combating burnout.
What would a shorter workweek look like?
The logistics of a four-day workweek are up for some interpretation. Some companies who have adopted this model have four, ten-hour workdays while others have four, eight-hour workdays. Employees are considered to be full-time if they work anywhere from 32 to 40 hours or more per week.
Each organization must decide which type of four-day workweek works best for them, but studies have shown that employees who worked 32 to 35 hours in a shorter workweek report better well-being and work-life balance and showed better productivity. Compressing a 40-hour workweek into fewer days can impact productivity and health, leading to employee burnout and disengagement.
Why is the four-day workweek becoming popular?
During Covid-19, close to 70% of full-time employees were working from home and a large majority continue to do so today. Around the globe, businesses have begun piloting four-day workweeks to meet the transition the modern-day workforce has experienced over the past few years.
The shift toward remote work showed the benefits of a more flexible approach to work. Additionally, the Great Resignation and the Great Job Search have both shown that younger generations of employees care significantly about their work-life balance.
- Reduced Costs for Everyone: Employees would pay less to commute each week and cut costs in workday expenses such as lunch and childcare. Additionally, businesses would have fewer overhead costs as the office would be closed for an additional day each week.
- Happier Employees: Having more time to spend with your family, focus on hobbies, relax, and have additional time on your hands would make anyone happier!
- Healthier Employees: Fewer hours sitting at a desk, time for engagement with family and friends, and better quality of life can lead to less stress and better mental and physical health.
- Increased Productivity and Motivation: Employees would have a better work-life balance, allowing them to be more engaged in their work and use their time more productively.
- It’s Not for Everyone: A four-day workweek is not possible for all business models, nor may some employees be interested! If you’re customer-facing, it may be impossible to shorten your workweek.
- Less Time to Fulfill Duties: Taking one eight-hour day from the workweek may be stressful for those who need some extra time to deliver the results of their work or participate in complex projects.
There are definitely a lot of positives to a four-day workweek. Some businesses may be wise to consider implementing a four-day workweek in the future. The priorities of the current workforce are shifting, focusing on healthy work-life balances and flexibility. A four-day workweek can help with employee retention and productivity, as well as satisfy the wants and needs of your workforce. It’s important to keep an open mind and evaluate whether a four-day workweek is the right solution for you and the changing workplace.