Will a 4-Day Workweek Make Your Employees More Productive?

The 4-day workweek is making a splash as an important employee benefit. Discover how shorter weeks work — and whether they’ll increase productivity for your company.

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Will a 4-Day Workweek Make Your Employees More Productive?

Recently 4-day workweeks have been back in the news. Companies in the U.K. are currently testing the concept of a 4-day workweek with 3,300 employees across 70 companies. This pilot, which spans several industries, is expected to offer more details about the efficacy of offering a shorter working week for employees.

Many organizations have grown accustomed to the traditional 5-day, 40-hour workweek. Letting go of a few hours or restructuring workdays can feel challenging. But work doesn’t have to be that way. Enter the 4-day workweek:

How employers are using the 4-day workweek

When setting up your 4-day workweek, there are a few different ways to set up your day. Most advocates of this work philosophy encourage shorter hours.

For example, 4-Day Week Global encourages the 100-80-100 model. With this, you’ll give your employees 100% of the pay for 80% of the time (32 hours). In return, though, you ask for 100% productivity during the 32 hours they work. Some companies reduce pay or extend hours, but that may not be the best way to introduce a 4-day workweek.

There are quite a few companies with 4-day workweeks. For example, this list compiled by 4/day week has over 100 companies that are either trialing or using this model.

Pros of the 4-day workweek

Having a shorter working week has many benefits. Let’s dive into how cutting hours can have a positive impact.

Encourages employees to work more efficiently during the week

We all know what it’s like to prepare for a 3-day weekend. The office is abuzz with lots of activity because everyone is trying to get 5 days’ worth of work done in 4. Since there is 1 less day to work, employees must get creative and cut out a lot of noise. In the same way, moving permanently to a 4-day workweek can boost employee productivity.

Gives employees more time to rest during their weekend

The current structure of the 2-day weekend doesn’t give most employees a chance to rest. Unfortunately, weekends aren’t just for relaxation. Often Saturdays are bursting with family obligations, and Sundays are usually spent preparing for the week ahead. The Sunday Scaries are real. An extra day allows for a real opportunity to unwind, which will improve work-life balance.

Reduces expensive business costs

Depending on how you run your 4-day workweek, you could reduce business costs for yourself and your employees. Employees who commute will have to do so for 1 less day, which could save hours every week. If you have an office where employees only go in 4 days a week, you can cut your utility bills.

Henley Business School whitepaper noted that 4-day workweeks can cut business expenses drastically. The school estimated £92 billion in savings for U.K. businesses that had implemented a 4-day workweek.

Henley Business School whitepaper noted that 4-day workweeks can cut business expenses drastically. The school estimated £92 billion in savings for U.K. businesses that had implemented a 4-day workweek.

Improves mental health and well-being at work

Employee burnout is a serious problem in today’s workplaces. The 5-day workweek can contribute to these negative feelings and impact mental health. Introducing a shorter working week may be a significant first step if you want your employees to have time for themselves. Iceland’s 4-day workweek trials, for instance, resulted in employees who felt better, had less stress, and were able to take up more activities outside of work.

Gives employees a chance to handle personal activities during the week

When you have a 4-day workweek, at least 1 of your off days has to occur during the traditional week. Companies that adhere to this workweek open up time for employees to handle personal tasks like going to the doctor and getting car repairs. If employees don’t have time to do this during the week, they can put these critical tasks off or take time off when it’s inconvenient. Ensuring employees have this time every week may save your company time and money.

Cons of the 4-day workweek

Removing a work day can be a challenge for employers. Let’s look at some of the potential cons of a 4-day workweek.

Can cause scheduling and customer satisfaction issues

you can give people more flexibility on when they want to take their 3 days off. Some people may not default to Friday–Sunday or Saturday–Monday.

One potential con of the 4-day workweek is how your customers may take it. For example, your customers might expect coverage 7 days a week, which can be frustrating if your office is closed.

Buffer has created a creative plan to serve its customers while adhering to the 4-day workweek. They spread their customer service professionals out with different shifts to cover all 7 days of the week. You can hire people to cover the weekend shifts. Or you can give people more flexibility on when they want to take their 3 days off. Some people may not default to Friday–Sunday or Saturday–Monday.

May widen inequality for hourly workers

If you aren’t offering 100% compensation, a 4-day workweek could put hourly workers at a disadvantage. Most short workweeks reduce hours to 32, which can cause employees trouble. Offering 100% compensation is an excellent solution for this challenge.

Can be hard to manage and regulate

It can be difficult to force employees to work 32 hours a week. Some of your salaried employees put in long hours, and they probably don’t clock in and out. If you want to switch to a 4-day workweek, you may have to work hard to manage and regulate how often people work.

Will a 4-day workweek increase productivity in your organization?

The 4-day workweek is a major shift for many organizations. Switching can lead to better work-life balance and more productivity. But making the switch can cause anxiety for leaders and workers alike. Regardless, considering the high levels of burnout and record numbers of employees leaving for more flexible work arrangements, companies have to take some risks.

Some companies start the experiment by experimenting with Summer Fridays or taking half-days. You could also provide some floating holidays for people to choose their own 4-day workweeks. There are many ways your organization can begin to experiment with giving employees more of their time back.

Are you ready for the 4-day workweek?

As challenging as fitting 5 days of work into a shorter period sounds, employees do it all the time. You may be doing your employees, customers, and business a disservice by expecting maximum productivity in a traditional workweek. Instead of keeping employees tethered to a laptop in person or at home, give them some of their time back. With creative scheduling and productivity, you may not be able to tell the difference.

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