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The Impact of a 4-Day Workweek

  • 30th Jul'22

In today's world, many people are debating why they should work five days a week when they can achieve the same results in fewer days.

Do four-day workweeks make a difference? The answer is Yes, it makes a lot of positive outcomes!

The Japanese government has suggested adopting a four-day workweek as national policy after observing how many businesses around the world successfully managed it for a year or more. It's not a new thing, but it seems to have gained more attention since the COVID-19 pandemic led to a comprehensive review of how we work, including a great migration to work from home and the implementation of hybrid offices.


What Is a 4-Day Workweek?

The ideal four-day workweek is a 32-hour workweek with no reduction in output, compensation, or perks. Everyone may work Monday to Thursday and get Fridays off, depending on the business and the industry. Having a different third day off every week, such as on Monday or Wednesday, or enabling each employee to select their own extra day off are other options.


Where Did Working Less Start?

It's not new to think about doing more work in less time to obtain more time off. We can all appreciate Ford Motor Company (as well as the Industrial Revolution) for the shift to a five-day workweek from a six-day one. In July 1926, it was an experiment at several companies; by September of the same year, it was company policy.


The myth of the 4-Day Workweek

You may have read that Iceland has implemented a four-day workweek successfully. In an article for The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent media organization, associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney's business school Anthony Zeal debunks this myth. The Conversation's writers are academics and researchers with experience in the topics they write about.

Zeal claims that the results of research conducted in June 2021, in which 2,500 government employees in 66 Icelandic enterprises explored switching from a 40-hour workweek to a 35- or 36-hour workweek, were misreported by major media agencies. 

The majority of workplaces ultimately reduced their hours by just one to three per week while still being able to maintain productivity and service standards. In the commercial and public sectors, respectively, the experiment did lead to a national decrease in hours worked, although only by 35 minutes and 65 minutes.


Success with the 4-Day Workweek

A four-day workweek was tried out in 2017 by Wildbit, a small software business established in Philadelphia in 2000, and it became standard practice. The company's success with this policy is due to its emphasis on outcomes rather than volume and on focused, meaningful work rather than hours logged. The business prioritizes remote work and offers location-neutral compensation.


Advantages of a 4-Day Workweek for the business


Minimizes Labor and Other Expenses

By switching to a four-day workweek, you can lower expenditures from a financial standpoint. Businesses can instantly cut back on a portion of variable overhead costs like power and energy use.

For instance, during the Microsoft Japan trial, electricity prices decreased by 23%. Additionally, staff consumes fewer office supplies, and machinery like printers and copiers last longer. Less frequent maintenance services also result from fewer workdays.


Assists in Retaining and Attracting Talent

In addition, a recent Gallup Report projected that the U.S. economy suffers a $30.5 billion annual loss due to Millennial turnover. Work-life balance is a top priority for Millennials when weighing their career possibilities, according to the same survey.

And research from the University of Reading gives credibility to this hypothesis. According to that study, 63 % of UK companies claimed that a four-day workweek helped them recruit and keep talent.


Improves the Efficiency and Wellbeing of Employees

Microsoft Japan experimented with shortening the workweek by one day in 2019, and as a result, productivity increased by 40%. In addition, Andrew Barnes, the creator of the New Zealand business Perpetual Garden, conducted an identical experiment. In the end, his workers were more content and effective. They aren't working harder; rather, they are working smarter.

Icelandic researchers also discovered that a four-day workweek without a salary drop increased employees' productivity and well-being. Researchers followed 2,500 workers who cut their workweeks to 35 to 36 hours for four years.

Workers' well-being "dramatically rose across a range of measures, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance," they found. Employees and employers productivity, meanwhile, was either unchanged or increased.


The Bottom Line

With a shorter workweek, many businesses and employees have found success and benefited from factors like higher productivity and more time to pursue hobbies and personal objectives. A four-day timetable does not, however, apply to all markets, organizations, or people. 

The COVID-19 pandemic's demand for a global revaluation of labor has generated interest in the four-day workweek concept. To make it the best option, however, will require a cultural and mental shift that vastly simplifies work life integration.


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