Looking Toward 2023, Expect to See More of the 4-Day Workweek

Chances are, we’re only going to see more about the shift to a 4-day workweek in 2023. Here’s why.

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Looking Toward 2023, Expect to See More of the 4-Day Workweek

Here's what you need to know:

  • A 6-month survey of 33 companies and 903 workers spread mostly across the United States and Ireland found that both companies and workers who tried a 4-day workweek out have no desire to go back to a 5-day workweek
  • A 4-day workweek increases your competitiveness among job applicants
  • Recent data shows that organizations that moved to a 4-day workweek also saw increases in revenue and employee productivity
  • 4-day workweeks are a boon for work-life balance, too

It was hard to miss — 2022 was the year when the 4-day workweek saw a major resurgence. And it makes sense. The pandemic completely shook up the way we work and opened the doors for new (and old) ways of doing things.

The 4-day workweek certainly wasn’t invented in 2022. In fact, it’s an idea that’s been around even in the United States since 1928!

Once the pandemic had us working from home and re-thinking our work-life balances, it makes total sense that interest in the 4-day workweek soared in 2022. And, according to a recently concluded survey, it was a raging success.

A 6-month survey of 33 companies and 903 workers spread mostly across the United States and Ireland found that both companies and workers who tried it out have no desire to go back.

Of the 27 companies that responded to the survey, none said that they were planning (or even really considering) returning to a 5-day workweek.

Of the 495 employees who responded, a whopping 97% said they wanted to continue their current 4-day workweek arrangement.

If you haven’t gotten on the 4-day workweek bandwagon in 2022, the new year is a great opportunity to try something new. Or, at least start planning a 4-day workweek pilot program for the upcoming year.

Chances are, we’re only going to see more about the shift to a 4-day workweek in 2023. Here’s why.

A 4-day workweek increases your competitiveness among job applicants

As CNBC reported in October, UK companies with 4-day workweeks are seeing job applications soar. “Visits to our recruitment page have gone up by 60% and [inquiries] to the company have gone up by 534%,” Helen Brittain, a human resources director at a company with a 4-day workweek, told CNBC. “We have definitely seen an increase in interest from job seekers.” So much so that, after the move to a 4-day workweek, the company quickly filled a position that had been open for a while.

According to Forbes, Natalie Nagele, CEO of a software company called Wildbit, shifted her company to a 4-day workweek in 2017. Nagele says that the number of applications to work at the company almost tripled after they made the change. “From a hiring perspective, it was a huge draw,” she says.

Worried about losing revenue? Don’t be.

Naturally, many business leaders worry about revenue loss when considering cutting back on work hours. Fortunately, research shows that the fear is largely unfounded. Not only does a 4-day workweek not lead to revenue loss, it can actually lead to revenue gains.

As Bloomberg reports, recent data shows that organizations that moved to a 4-day workweek saw increases in revenue and employee productivity. Those gains were matched by a decrease in both absenteeism and turnover.

Not only does a 4-day workweek not lead to revenue loss, it can actually lead to revenue gains.

The research found that workers on a 4-day schedule were also more inclined to work from the office rather than work from home. “This is important because the two-day weekend is not working for people,” one of the researchers, Juliet Schor, told Bloomberg. “In many countries, we have a work week that was enshrined in 1938, and it doesn’t mesh with contemporary life. For the well-being of people who have jobs, it’s critical that we address the structure of the work week.”

When it came to revenue specifically, Schor’s research found that, among the companies studied, revenue increased by 8% during the study. This added up to a 38% increase compared to the previous year. This means that even during the transition to a 4-day workweek, revenue went up.

John Leland, chief strategy officer for Kickstarter, one of the businesses involved in the research, explained that the pros are more numerous than the cons. “The benefits are significant and outweigh the marginal efforts it takes to engage in this change,” he told Bloomberg.

4-day workweeks are a boon for work-life balance, too

It just makes sense. Each week has a set number of days. If you’re working for 5 of the 7 days, there are only 2 days when you can fully focus on yourself.

But that doesn’t mean that you can just rest, rest, rest. There are all those errands you have to run that are hard to do outside of office hours. There’s all that fun stuff you want to do, too, that’s hard to do during the week.

The result can be coming back to work on Monday more tired than you were when you left on Friday. If we move to working just 4 days a week instead of 5, that means we have 3 fully personal days each week.

That’s more time to hang out with friends and family. More time to engage in hobbies and other interests. More time to do nothing and focus on self-care and mental health.

Research backs it up. In 2018, the Auckland University of Technology took a look at what happened when a local estate planning company made the move to a 4-day workweek. After the move, the 54% of employees who said they were managing work and personal needs well increased to 78%.

The number of employees who reported feeling stressed at work shrank from 45% to 38%. This led to increased employee satisfaction across a number of indicators from personal health to community involvement and leisure time.

How to start a 4-day workweek at your company in 2023

Ready to make the change to a 4-day workweek in 2023? Here’s how:

Look to reduce meetings

Many people will already tell you that most meetings seem to be little more than a time suck. If you’re worried about your employees having enough time to get their work done in just 4 days, try decreasing the number of meetings people have.

Let your clients and customers know

The whole thing will go more smoothly if the people who rely on your company (your clients and customers) know what to expect.

Some companies choose to have it mentioned in email signatures. This helps the clients and customers who are communicating with your company know that they shouldn’t expect a reply on Fridays. Out-of-office automatic replies can help with this, too.

Recalibrate your KPIs

Moving to a 4-day workweek doesn’t mean that you should reduce your goals. But it might mean that you need to adjust the timetables associated with them.

If you’re tracking an indicator on a weekly basis, it might make sense to look at it in the aggregate across the whole month. This will help to avoid things looking like they’re plummeting when, in reality, they aren’t — things just operate on different timelines now.

Encourage your employees to unplug entirely on their day off

The whole thing falls apart if everyone is still checking email on Fridays when they’re supposed to be off. Leaders should lead by example and refrain from work on Fridays.

Encourage employees to make plans that will actually keep them away from work until it becomes a habit. Even something as simple as going for a hike in a place without great cell service can do the trick.

With planning, the workweek change can go smoothly

Any change can be a tricky one, but with enough planning, the process can go more smoothly than you might imagine. Even if you want to make the change in 2023, there’s no reason that it has to be at the beginning of 2023.

You should certainly kick it off in the new year if you’re ready. But don’t feel pressured to adhere to an artificial timeline. That’s what the whole 4-day workweek concept is about in the first place, isn’t it?

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