But since COVID-19, it’s been gaining more momentum.
The pandemic forced many companies to rethink what work looks like (e.g. remote work and hybrid schedules), and switching from a five-day to a four-day workweek was the logical next step.
Why? Well, workers are becoming less happy at work. A 2021 Harvard Business Review survey of 1,500 employees revealed the following:
These statistics aren’t encouraging. But if you adopt a four-day workweek, you can improve many of these workplace ills.
In this article, we’ll explain what a four-day workweek looks like and the benefits and challenges that come with it.
A four-day workweek means condensing the traditional five-day workweek into four days. Ideally, employers do this without any decrease in output, productivity, pay, or benefits. You simply fit 40 hours of work into 32 hours.
Many companies choose to have employees work Monday through Thursday and then take Friday through Sunday off. Others let employees choose their own workdays so long as they add up to four per week. Either way, giving employees three days off work has many benefits.
The benefits of the four-day work week include the following:
The four-day workweek offers a better work-life balance. For example, employees can spend more time with their family and friends and use the three-day weekends to go on more outings and vacations.
It also gives employees more time for their personal development, education, hobbies, home projects, and even doctor appointments. Having more time to do these things will keep workers happier at home and work.
When working only four days a week, employees tend to stay healthier. They get more time to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health, which means fewer sick days, less burnout, and higher worker satisfaction and employee retention.
If you’re serious about improving workers’ health, you need to encourage self-care by giving employees enough time off work.
Less work can be helpful in preventing employee burnout.
The four-day workweek also helps lower your operating expenses. With workers in the office for one less day, you’ll have fewer costs from utilities (gas, electricity, A/C, water), supplies, commutes, and more.
By reducing your overhead costs this way, you can actually boost profits!
The real question on the four-day workweek is about productivity. Do workers still get as much done in four days as they do in five? The answer is yes.
So if you shorten the workweek from five to four days, the relative output of your employees will increase. So on top of having happier employees, you could actually gain higher profits. It’s a win-win.
Lastly, by coming into the office one less day, you reduce your carbon footprint. You’ll use less natural gas and electricity to operate the office and you’ll help decrease the amount of gas that employees use to commute to work.
Every company has a responsibility to do its part in fighting against climate change and adopting the four-day workweek is a great way to do it.
That said, switching to a four-day workweek still has some challenges:
For some workers, the prospect of having less time to get work done can be stressful. Not everyone responds well to the extra pressure. So make sure you’re sensitive to employees’ needs.
If you’re not careful, workers might end up compensating for having one less workday by staying in the office longer, squeezing their past 40-hour workweek into four 10-hour days. But this defeats the point.
Cutting out a workday could mean you’ll be less available for customers. If clients expect you to answer emails, messages, and calls Monday through Friday, this might hurt your business. So be sure to communicate your service hours clearly.
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided to implement the four-day workweek, here are some ways to make the transition smoother:
The four-day workweek isn’t for every company, but many can benefit from the switch. You won’t know until you give it a try.