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Is The 4 Day Work Week Possible?

What is the four day work week?

The standard log time for the average office worker is about 8 hours per day, five days a week. However, when you work a four-day workweek, you work 10 hours a day for 4 days. Ultimately, the work time is still 40 hours per week.

This isn’t, however, a fixed thing since it depends on each employee’s own schedule as per the company’s requirements. Neither does the extra day of have to be either Monday or Friday. The three day weekend is all about flexibility, increased productivity and ease.

Source; CPA Practice Advisor

So, what do the numbers say?

Studies conducted in 8 countries including India have shown that more than half of workers would opt for a 4 day work week simply because they felt they could be done with the day’s work in much less time. The argument is pretty simple; if workers feel they need that extra day of rest while completing their daily tasks, it would increase productivity in offices and create a more healthy culture.  On the flip side, the argument is that most workers are paid fixed salaries by the hours they clock in. This means that their salaries drop considerably. 

However, the four day work week is definitely not for everyone. It varies from business to business and from employee to employee. For example, for workers with children, the extra time off could be utilized in personal tasks and time spent with their family. 

This method has been very successful in countries such as Iceland and New Zealand where many employers cut work hours to 32 per week without cutting down salaries and found that their levels of productivity increased considerably.

So, what are the pros and cons?

So, why should anyone opt for this method? Well, as per a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a look at Netherlands’s worker productivity after shorter work weeks showed great improvement as compared to other nations. There was also a correlation between less stress in workers who logged in for fewer hours. 

In a report by Talent Economy, Marta Stefaniuk, of Chicago based firm Merge Design + Interactive had this to say about the four day work week;

The two major benefits were efficiency and work-life balance. People walked into the office and got to work. Everyone worked quickly and effectively to be able to have Friday off. Much less time was wasted on unnecessary chatter, fewer people were late and meetings ran more efficiently.

There was also betterment in employees mental health and stress levels according to Stefaniuk;

“The three-day weekend allowed for a longer rest, more time with family and friends, less of a rush to run errands. People traveled out of town more because it’s worth it and doable in three days. And a change of scenery makes a huge difference on people’s mental well being. On Monday, employees returned more refreshed and excited to get back to their routine.”

This strategy might also be beneficial for employers since it suits the lifestyles of Millennials who like the idea of a flexible work schedule. This may also increase productivity since greater freedom will result in increased loyalty to the firm.

Why the four day week might not be for everyone

Alternatively, the 4 day work week coupled with the same 40 hours might result in more fatigued employees as they might get tired and lose their flow during a 10-hour work slot. Then, the fact is that this might not suit each business since many customers might expect employees to provide service on all 5 days of the week. This may result in lost sales and potential customers.

Furthermore in the case of group projects and meetings, the employee who is absent that day may miss out on valuable feedback and might feel compelled to put in their input even while taking the day off.

With all these points taken into consideration, the 4 day work week is indeed a good idea but only for jobs that can allow for a more flexible schedule. 

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