One year ago a company from New Zealand came with interesting experiment: Employees were working only 4 days in a week, 32 hours instead of 40 hours a week and they were paid the usual salary. According to the numbers from this study, the employees felt less stressed and their work-life balance improved. In addition, the job performance wasn’t affected by those missing hours, on the contrary it slightly improved. Interesting, isn’t it? Many companies are trying to attract new employees and this is one of the advantages they can offer so let’s look at pros and cons of 4 day workweek.
The fact that you work only 4 days a week doesn’t always mean that you work only 32 hours a week. In some countries the employees can choose between 5 days with 8 hours at work or only 4 days but with 10 hours at work. This system works mostly in the United States but in some European countries the workweek is a bit shorter. For example, in the Netherlands most of the people work only 29 hours a week, in Denmark and Norway the workweek has approx. 33 hours and in Ireland it’s 34 hours. In these countries the 4 day workweek is totally possible.
Now let’s talk about the advantages of 4 day workweek. According to not only the New Zealand experiment but also to some other studies, the productivity during the working hours increase to compensate the missing day. Employees use their time much more effectively by spending less time on inefficient tasks or time wasters like social media. With less stress and higher work-life balance the satisfaction of employees grows, their motivation and creativity increases and they engage better at their work. Also because of the focus on collective goals and the emphasis on efficiency the cooperation in a team needs to be better and it can bring the whole team closer together.
What about the difficulties of 4 day week? The obvious risk for employers is, that workers won’t be able to fulfill their work tasks in shorter time and it will become very costly for the whole company. It can be also very stressful for employees to manage to fit 5 day work into 4 days. Also there are some industries which require a 24/7 presence and it is simply impossible for them to put 4 day week in practice. Another fact is, that majority of other people have to work 5 days a week and if you don’t have kids or family, the 5th day can be pretty lonely for you. That can also increase your guilt, because everyone else is actually working. Emails are still coming in, tasks are waiting to be done and you have this bad feeling that you are missing out. So you should rather find some activity, otherwise you will feel very lazy and unproductive.
It’s safe to say that 4 day workweek is not for everyone but if you think that it could actually work at your company, test it out for some limited period of time and you will see if you and your team are able to accomplish more by working less.