The 4 Day Work Week

by Kelly Sullivan

Every once in a while, we here in the United States are blessed with the rare but beautiful three day weekend due to a national holiday. If you felt an unusual sense of joy, relief, relaxation, recharge, or happiness this week, you are not alone.

While the five day workweek model worked well in the past, it was born in an era where factory work was the norm. People would get up, go to work, do their jobs and go home. It was that simple.

With ever-advancing technology and an uptick in desk/office jobs, the complaints of burnout and lack of a work-life balance are more frequent than ever before.

While most (not all) companies allow their employees paid time off for the few national holidays we have each year, some are now even considering adopting a four day workweek year round.

But a shorter workweek doesn’t mean less work. One increasingly popular option for companies is offering a workweek where all of an employee’s hours are condensed into four days instead of five. This adaptation comes with pros and cons, so let us break some of them down for you.

Here are some of the most important things to consider when thinking about a four day workweek for you and your employees.

Reduced Costs/Carbon Footprint

Cutting a day out of the workweek reduces costs for everyone. 

Obviously, if the office is shut down for an extra day then you would see a significant drop in running costs. On top of this, employees have one less day to commute and one less day to spend money on things like coffee and lunch. This can make a huge difference for a lot of people.

If you want to do your part for the planet, keeping employees off the road and keeping the lights off 20% of the time is going to make a big difference. 

Happy Employees

Having a three day weekend gives employees an extra day to recharge and spend time doing the things they love with the people they love. This allows them to come back to the office feeling productive and ready to work.

A Henley Business School poll of business leaders found that 62% reported fewer sick days being used. When employees have that extra day off during traditional business hours, they’re able to schedule appointments and take care of personal matters more easily and without taking time away from the job.

Don’t Take A One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Remember the importance of flexibility. Four, ten-hour workdays could prove to be difficult for some employees based on their children or other obligations.

Employers have to consider if and how their employees could make up hours to prevent them from getting overly stressed, while making sure their work isn’t affected.

Organizations should also consider if employees get to choose their free day or if there will be a standard day across the organization. While Friday seems like the ideal day off, it might not work for everyone.

Consider the Impact on Your Customers

A critical component to ensuring how you are going to implement the four-day workweek is understanding how it will impact customer satisfaction.

If you work in an industry or sector where this will significantly impact your customer base, then consider empowering employees to analyze when they experience the highest customer traffic, and ensure the new schedule is set up with this in mind. 

For some organizations, half of their employees take Mondays off, while the other half takes off on Friday. The need to have your team available for customers or for other team members may limit your ability to implement a four day workweek.

Is a four-day week right for your business? We still don’t know for sure whether a four-day week is the solution to the changing 21st century workplace or not.

But, what is certain is that small businesses will have to keep an open mind. Flexibility, trust, preparation and accountability will all come into play on both the side of the employer and the employee. 

If you are an organization considering a four day work week, hats off to you for evolving with the times! Just don’t forget to consider all sides so that you can be as prepared as possible for whatever might come your way. We are rooting for your success stories!


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