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5 Reasons to Change to a 4-Day Work Week

As a worker, you'd probably be overjoyed to move to a four-day work week. After all, it'd be like having a three-day weekend every week. Plus, as Philip Sopher recently pointed out at The Atlantic, working fewer hours per week boosts both morale and productivity among workers. So why haven't all companies made the switch?

As a worker, you’d probably be overjoyed to move to a four-day work week. After all, it’d be like having a three-day weekend every week. Plus, as Philip Sopher recently pointed out at The Atlantic, working fewer hours per week boosts both morale and productivity among workers. So why haven’t all companies made the switch?

weekend 

(Photo Credit: Jake Givens via Unsplash)

In part, it’s because change is hard. The seven-day week isn’t based on a natural phenomenon, like the year or the month. It does, however date back to ancient Babylon, and is 4,000 years old. By contrast, having even two days off per week is only around 100 years old, and owes its existence to the labor movement of the late 19th century.

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But if we could change the structure of the work week back then, we can change it again today. There are certainly enough reasons to do so: 

  1. Productivity: With less time to accomplish the work, workers “focus on what’s important,” according to Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp. Citing evidence from The American Journal of Epidemiology and The Harvard Review in his article in The Atlantic, Sopher says that “with the right scheduling of bursts and rests, workers could get a similar amount of work done over a shorter period of time.”
  2. Health: That four-day work week would help combat high blood pressure and mental health problems, according to a Daily Mail interview with John Ashton, president of the U.K. Faculty of Public Health.
  3. Retention: Workers love the idea of a four-day work week. Based on his implementation of a four-day work week at Slingshot, CEO Jay Love claims: “employee retention literally sours.” He further says: “Who would ever want to give up three days at home, only commuting four days a week — and the cerebral exercise of weekly research?” 
  4. Personal and professional enrichment: Employees could use their longer weekends to read more, take a class, and expand their personal and professional potential. A four-day work week (with research and learning opportunities) could positively impact workplace performance, contributing to greater worker happiness and sense of accomplishment. It could also support career advancement. 
  5. Fewer unemployed workers: With a four-day work week, companies could adjust schedules to cover the “normal” operating hours. That could mean even more job openings in an economic climate that is already moving in the right direction (with 142,000 jobs just added and unemployment at 6.1 percent).

If shortening the work week really translates to such significant returns on the investment in terms of output, worker retention, and the personal and professional happiness that so many Americans say they want, it’s a win-win for employees and companies. Everyone would be happier and healthier — and more productive.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your thoughts on a four-day work week? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Esther Lombardi
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7 Comments on "5 Reasons to Change to a 4-Day Work Week"

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John
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For the last 6 years I have been working as a casual for 3-4 days a week at $20 an hour. The amount of work suited my situation as a single parent although money was a little tight. In the following 2 years I negotiated increases with my employer in my casual hourly rate first to $25 an hour, then to $30 an hour, in recognition of my competence and work skills. My weekly hours settled down to 20-25 hours a week. This provides a comfortable but modest income to meet all the needs of myself and a teenager. It… Read more »
Evelyn
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I had a 4 day 32 hour week in my previous job for 10 years and I loved it. Now I am working 37.5 days at a 5 day week and am older and despise it. Yes the pay is good , but my health is much more important now, as I am 56.

S
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“As a worker, you’d probably be overjoyed to move to a four-day work week. After all, it’d be like having a three-day weekend every week. Plus, as Philip Sopher recently pointed out at The Atlantic, working fewer hours per week boosts both morale and productivity among workers.”

Good luck with that – it is NOT how four day work weeks actually work. What happens is you still work FORTY hours or more but at TEN hours or more per day. Been there, done that and it kinda SUCKS!

NetScanr
Guest

As long as the current mindset towards exempt employees persists, it’ll never happen in the U.S. Most exempt employees don’t work 40 hours over 5 days, they work a lot more than 40 hours, often stretching over 6 days. American employers believe more hours working translates into more work performed, which is incorrect. If enough studies disprove this myth, and enough organizations focus on changing the paradigm, maybe 4-day work-weeks will happen in another 100 years.

Laura
Guest

The 4 day work week is still based on 40 hours….10 hour days. A lot of people, myself included, feel that once you’re at work, an extra 2 hours a day would be nothing….we’d rather work 2 extra hours a day and have an extra day off. Staff could choose Mon or Fri off so there’d always be a partial staff on those days and work could still be accomplished.

Dave in Chicago
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One assumes that this implies cutting the work week from 40 hours to 30. And hiring more people to cover the hours. Since ObamaCare has been implemented, job growth is stagnant. Take 3 someone’s 40 hours a week job, cut it to 30 and “give” those 10 hours to 3 new bodies. But those bodies incur their expenses so is there a savings? And before you jump up with glee at the idea of a 30 hour workweek, can you make ends meet on 25% less income? Because rent, food, etc are still going to cost the same. And you… Read more »
patrick
Guest

What a dumb idea!

If anything a 5.5 day work week should be reintroduced. Staff want more money – need more money as costs are rising. This 4 day work wk will only encourage folk to work two or more jobs!!!
Pay your staff well!
Work them HARD.
Everyone wins!!!

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