You found our ultimate guide to the four-day work week.
The four-day work week is the work concept where employees only work for four days a week. Many companies are increasingly experimenting with new and creative working methods instead of adhering to the typical 9 to 5, Monday to Friday office schedule. The benefits of the four-day work week include increased productivity, lower operating costs, and better work-life balance.
This article contains:
- definition of the four-day work week
- four-day work week pros and cons
- benefits of a four-day work week
- 4 day work week guidelines
- how to implement a four-day work week
- companies with a four-day work week
Let’s get started!
Definition of the four-day work week
A four-day work week means that employees work for only four days in a week instead of the usual five. Employees still work the same number of hours but on a compressed schedule. This program gives workers a three-day weekend every week, which can improve their work-life balance and overall happiness.
To make this idea work, employees might have to work longer hours each day, like ten hours instead of eight. This program can help companies save money on things like energy and office costs because they are open fewer days. However, it is important to make sure employees do not get too tired or less productive from the longer workdays.
A four-day work week can be a good idea, but it depends on the company and the job. Some companies have seen benefits like happier employees and better work, but it might not work for all teams. Companies need to think about this schedule carefully before trying it.
The pros of a four-day work week
Before implementing this work system, it is important to consider four-day work week pros and cons. An extra day off means more personal time for employees, which in turn means less stress and a better work-life balance. Workers benefit from a shorter work week, but there are advantages for employers as well. Some of the benefits of four-day work week include:
1. Improve health and well-being
A four-day work week can positively affect employees’ health. Having an extra day off allows workers to focus more on caring for themselves, staying active, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This schedule also means employees are less likely to call in sick or take time off for doctor’s appointments because they have more flexible schedules. Additionally, the reduced stress from a shorter work week can lead to better mental health by reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, promoting a sense of overall well-being.
2. Recruit and retain the best employees
Workers love a three-day weekend or public holidays. By providing this benefit to your employees, you can keep them engaged and happy at work all week long. Satisfied employees are less likely to leave, which means lower employee turnover. In addition, the four-day work week is still a novel proposition and may be a terrific way to attract top talent and boost employee loyalty.
Here are more talent retention tactics.
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3. Promote gender equality
According to a report from the Government Equalities Office, women make up 89 percent of those who are unable to work because of childcare duties. The impact of Covid-19 on childcare demands means that this number will rise further. A four-day work week means more time with families and the ability to better balance work and childcare responsibilities. Ultimately, this working system might help bridge the gender pay gap.
For more insights, check out these business books for women.
4. Reduce operating costs
Cost-saving is one of the most practical benefits of a four-day work week. Every team member can benefit from reduced costs with a four-day work week, regardless of how the company handles salary. You will save money on maintenance and operating costs like power and water bills if workers do not come as often to the workplace. You can even opt for office timeshares, in which another firm pays rent for the days you do not utilize the space, allowing you to split the expense of your office space with another company. In addition, your workers would pay just one-fifth less of their commute costs.
5. Reduce unemployment rates
A four-day work week may potentially present a lifeline in today’s economic conditions. The independent think tank Autonomy believes that a four-day work week in the public sector may produce up to half a million much-needed employment in the United Kingdom. The idea is that a four-day work week distributes work evenly across the economy to open up new roles.
6. Create work and personal life balance
Allowing workers to have an additional day off each week enables them to spend time with loved ones as well as pursue their interests and hobbies. When you have a balanced workforce, your workers will probably come to work in their best version, which leads to higher levels of innovation and productivity and, ultimately, greater business success.
Here are tips for achieving work-life balance.
The cons of a four-day work week
Despite the many benefits of the four-day work week, this system is not right for every business. Some of the drawbacks include:
1. Not fit for every business model
The four-day work week would be difficult for certain organizations that need to be online and operational at all times. For example, customer service positions require that employees respond to customers’ issues all day long and sometimes over the weekend. Some clients may be angry if no employee is in the office when they call. For such companies, this work approach might cause issues and a decline in productivity.
2. Longer workdays
Because there are fewer days to get the work done, employees often have to work more hours each day, like ten instead of eight. This schedule can make days feel long and tiring. Sometimes, working for such extended periods can make teams feel exhausted or stressed, and it might be harder for them to stay focused and productive throughout the day. So, while workers get an extra day off, the days they do work can be quite demanding due to the longer hours.
3. Disruptive to child care
A typical day at a childcare facility runs over eight hours from Monday through Friday. Having to find someone to keep children for an additional two hours when working ten hours a day might be a problem for parents. When a company implements a four-day work week, employees may depart for a schedule that better fits their family’s needs, unless the employer offers alternatives, such as an on-campus daycare.
4. Underutilized labor
Employees who have a shorter work week may wish they could work more hours but are unable to do so. This constraint on working hours and income can cause some workers to opt for a job elsewhere. When employees work elsewhere to cover up their free hours of the week, then the entire idea of the four-day work week is pointless.
5. Too much uncertainty
Eliminating a full workday or lowering the number of work hours and expecting productivity to stay the same or even rise is too risky. Before making a full-time transition to a new method, it is vital to examine the hazards and maybe try it first. Unless your business has the shock absorbers to handle the outcome, this system might be for you.
How to implement a four-day work week
A four-day work week may hurt a company without adequate planning and preparation. To get you started on the right path, consider the following suggestions.
1. Determine the business goals you hope to achieve
When writing the policy for a four-day work week, taking the time to consider why you are making the change can be beneficial. It would help if you thought about how a four-day workweek may improve efficiency. The purpose could be to increase your organization’s efficiency. You may also want to boost your productivity, employee engagement, and retention rates. Highlighting the program’s goal and making it measurable will make implementation easier.
You can create as many objectives as you can and then go back and review them. This approach will prevent you from developing a strategy to learn that changing the workweek would hardly give you any reward or make any difference to your bottom line.
Additionally, you will be able to identify areas in the policy that require additional description, especially when pitching it to the board. Scheduling, benefits, and payroll are three areas that will see the most changes due to the transition to a four-day workweek.
2. Evaluate Benefits and Costs
To decide if a four-day work week is a smart choice for your company, you will want to think about the good it might do and any problems it might cause. For example, you will want to consider if the change is primarily about saving your company money or making your employees happier. However, you also need to think about any downsides, like if the schedule makes it harder to serve your customers or if it is costing more money than it is worth. This kind of thinking helps you figure out if you should keep the four-day work week or if you should make alternative changes to make work better for the whole team.
3. Consult with team members
Communication is essential. You should check whether your employees are interested in the system, and then ask them to discuss and try alternative ideas to make it happen. Involving your staff in the process will help increase their motivation to run the four-day work week successfully.
Also, it would be best if you worked with every department in your company to create this policy. HR managers will assist you to gather materials that staff will require, while your legal team will help you choose what terminology you may and should use. It is vital to collaborate with your coworkers to develop 4 day work week guidelines that are fair to every employee.
For more advice, check out this list of books on change management.
4. Highlight the intended advantages of the transition
The advantages of this adjustment should be the most prominent feature. A four-day workweek has obvious advantages, and these should be the main point of our plan. Your boss is unlikely to read beyond the first page if you do not make the advantages evident. You can also create an action plan for realizing the benefits too. For example, if you are going to talk about increasing worker productivity, you need also talk about how you will achieve it.
5. Determine the work schedule
Clearly defining expectations for how workers should work and communicate is significant. Here are a few major considerations:
- The working hours
- Who decides the off day: the company or the employee?
- Changes to pay or operating costs
- Changes to the holiday allowance
These considerations are necessary because they act as a guide when setting up policies for the four-day work week. The general rule of computing leave allowance is multiplying the number of days worked a week by 5.6. The 5-day workweek grants employees 28 days of leave each year. As a result, an employee who works a 4-day week gets 22.4 days of leave, which is four-days multiplied by 5.6 weeks.
6. Consider testing the system first
Testing the work system is advisable before implementation. It will be easier to sort out any kinks in your flexible work policy and make changes after a one-month trial period. You may come to a different conclusion after a month of trying the four-day work week. Employers can take these steps before committing the organization to costly or legal work.
7. Consider the impact on policies for paid time off, sick leave, and wages
Many states require that companies compensate employees for overtime after crossing a minimum number of work hours, usually eight hours. You should read federal and state laws such as the FMLA’s administration and the Americans with Disabilities Act and discover how they affect a four-day work week. For unionized firms, working with the union throughout this process can help you maintain excellent ties with your employees and guarantee that the company considers their feedback.
8. Evaluate Results
After switching to a four-day work week, it is a good idea to look closely at how work is going. This step means checking if your employees are feeling better and less stressed, if they are doing their jobs well, and if teams are meeting your original goals for making this change. By checking in, you can figure out if the new work schedule is working as you hoped or if any issues need fixing.
List of companies with a four-day work week
An organization’s shift to a four-day work week is a huge undertaking.
Here are some examples of companies that have tried the system:
Kickstarter experimented with a four-day work week in 2021 and had excellent results. Employee engagement increased, and productivity remained consistent across the organization. The firm has opted to stick with a four-day work week for good in 2022.
2. Elephant Ventures
Elephant Ventures, a New York software firm, tried a four-day work week in August 2020. In addition to reducing burnout, the four-day work week resulted in more work completed in less time.
Treehouse teaches folks about computer web development, design, and other tech-related subjects. Treehouse introduced a four-day work week with a 32-hour schedule for its employees. The company’s goal was to prioritize work-life balance and employee well-being. By reducing the standard week to four days, Treehouse aimed to create a more sustainable and healthier work environment.
This Utah-based firm that helps companies cut waste and boost productivity established a shorter work week. The company paid workers for 40 hours of labor each week for the experiment, even though they only worked for 32 hours. The firm recorded impressive outcomes in terms of employee engagement, productivity, and creative output.
5. Perpetual Guardian
In a two-month experiment, the firm Perpetual Guardian, based in New Zealand, implemented a four-day work week. The company did not cut employees’ salary despite reducing working hours to 32 per week.
Employees generally reported greater work-life balance, job satisfaction, health, and reduced work-related stress after the study. This timetable was a success for the workforce, so the firm decided to make it permanent.
Basecamp is a well-known project management and team collaboration software company. Basecamp introduced a four-day work week in the summer months as part of their approach to promoting work-life balance and ensuring employees had enough time to enjoy the season. Teams were able to recharge over the summer and come back to work with renewed energy and creativity.
In the United Kingdom, Ninety is one firm that implemented a four-day workweek in November 2020. The company recorded a positive response to the system, and many team members look forward to a three-day weekend, which they may use for personal growth, side hustles, or simply relaxing.
There is no direct answer to whether a four-day work week is good for your firm since every business is different. On the other hand, employers must stay flexible to keep their employees motivated and productive.
You can talk to your employees about the future of work and what they envision. You can use employee surveys to find out which workplace solutions are most suited for your company’s needs.