When thinking of the standard workweek, you likely imagine five 8-hour shifts spanning from Monday to Friday, with Saturday and Sunday providing two days of rest before repeating the cycle again. This is the normal balance for many individuals across the globe. However, another workweek schedule has been slowly rising in relevancy throughout the years. This system also consists of 8-hour days, but there are only four days in this schedule. It provides an additional day off for recreational activities and personal projects while still retaining the same pay and benefits of the standard 40-hour workweek.
The four-day workweek has seen its rise in relevancy in countries across the Atlantic Ocean but has yet to fully take hold in the United States. “4 Day Week Global”, a non-profit foundation that researches the benefits of a four day work week on employees and employers alike, has launched its “International Pilot Program” this year in partnership with Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University in the US and other countries. This pilot is a voluntary research program consisting of a 6-month trial of a four-day working week, with no loss in pay for employees. While it may sound illogical for employers to pay the same amount for fewer hours worked, “4 Day Week Global” claims that “adopting a four-day workweek is a business improvement strategy centered on working smarter rather than longer, and investing in the wellbeing of the most important asset to any business – the employees. We advocate for the 100-80-100 model – 100% of the pay, 80% of the time, but critically in exchange for 100% of the productivity.” Thus this system is based on paying employees for the results they provide rather than the hours spent in the office. “4 Day Week Global” provided the following listed statistics to demonstrate that the productivity, happiness, and engagement of employees actually increased under a four-day working schedule:
- The landmark four-day week trial at Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand in 2018, monitored by academics at The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, found engagement levels rose between 30 and 40 percent, work-life balance metrics rose by 44 percent, empowerment by 26 percent, leadership by 28 percent, work stimulation by 27 percent, and organizational commitment by 29 percent.
- A long-running landmark trial of a shorter workweek in Iceland has been hailed as an “overwhelming success.” Analysis of the results found that a reduction of working hours maintained or increased productivity across all sectors of the economy. The findings also indicated improved wellbeing and work-life balance among workers.
- Microsoft Japan’s 2019 four-day week trial yielded a 39 percent increase in productivity.
- 78% of employees with four-day work weeks are happier and less stressed.
- 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a four day workweek
Unsurprisingly, the idea of a four-day workweek is appealing to a bulk of workers in the US. In a study conducted by Qualtrics.com, 92% of US employees want a four-day week, citing improved mental health and productivity as key benefits. 74% claim they would be able to complete the same amount of work in four days. However, 72% claim that they would need to work longer during workdays to complete tasks. In the same study, Qualtrics found that on the opposite side of the spectrum, “many employees fear a shorter workweek could have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line and relationships with customers. 46% believe a four-day workweek would have a negative effect on sales and revenue, and 55% say a shorter workweek would frustrate customers.”
To view even more statistics found by Qualtrics during their study, visit this link: .
As the four-day workweek is researched for its potential benefits and companies continue to test the system through the “Pilot Program,” more data will become available to us. If the four-day workweek is standardized, it will be the first change in the standardized working week in the almost 100 years since Henry Ford diverged from the six-day workweek in 1926 to the current five-day work week we are accustomed to. Furthermore, when Henry Ford made this change, the pay of employees was not affected. Could this be a case of history repeating itself?
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