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Workplace Trend Alert: 4-Day Work Weeks

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the daily workplace changed drastically. Suddenly, companies were forced to adopt new strategies and policies as remote work became the new norm.

Now as organizations start to return to work, new workplace trends are coming to light. Many companies are transitioning to hybrid workplaces, while others are selling their office spaces and keeping their workforces remote permanently. 

But there’s one workplace trend that is becoming more and more popular by the second.

Enter the 4-day work week.

What is the 4-day work week?

As stated in its name, the 4-day work week consists of employees working only 4 days a week rather than the typical 5. Depending on the company, this can look a bit different. The 4 days could be Mondays through Thursdays, Tuesdays through Fridays, or left completely up to employees to decide.

For some organizations, the 4-day work week might mean employees are required to work 10 hours each day instead of 8. For others, it may keep employees’ daily hours the same and reduce the overall time they work per week.

What are the advantages?

The 4-day work week is so compelling because it can increase employees’ productivity and engagement, while also helping them avoid burnout

After implementing a 4-day work week, the Perpetual Garden, a company in New Zealand, reported a 20 percent gain in employee productivity and a 27 percent reduction in work stress levels.

The 4-day work week can boost employee morale, motivation, and retention because it’s flexible and promotes a healthy work-life balance. In their case study, the Perpetual Garden found that having a 4-day work week increased employees’ work-life balance by 45 percent. Offering employees such flexibility can lead to a more inclusive workplace because it enables them to spend more time with family—especially for working parents.

Companies that have a 4-day work week can also decrease their carbon footprints. In fact, one UK study revealed that completely shifting to a 4 day work week could reduce the entire country’s carbon footprint by 21.3 percent per year.

What are the disadvantages?

Even though the 4-day work week comes with many benefits, there are some drawbacks to consider. Since employees will have less hours in the week to complete the same amount of work, the 4-day work week could potentially increase pressure around deadlines, leading to additional stress. 

Working fewer days a week will also directly impact the compensation of hourly employees. To make sure these employees are getting paid the same amount, companies have either decided to extend their hours on the 4 days or continue paying them for 5 days of work. This decision could require strategic planning and involve many people across your organization. 

Moreover, the 4-day work week may not be possible for some industries. For example, nurses and doctors might need to be available around the clock. Additionally, companies with customer service teams may have clients that need access to support 5 days a week. If they still want to transition to a 4-day work week, these organizations can try building out alternating employee schedules so that someone is always on call.

Is a 4-day work week in your company’s future?

After weighing all of these pros and cons, your company can decide whether it’d be beneficial to have a 4-day work week. However, this shouldn’t be a decision made solely by company leaders. By implementing a new schedule, you’ll be altering the way your employees work—which means it’s crucial to ask them what they think.

To gather employees’ feedback, you can send out surveys and ask managers to conduct meetings with their teams. If you want to give employees even more flexibility, you can ask them which days they’d like to work during the week to help you prepare accordingly. Hearing their feedback will help you make the best decision for your entire organization.

To learn more about what the workplace will look like in 2024 and beyond, check out our Workplace Trends Report.

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