top of page
  • Writer's pictureSara Broadhurst

The Four-Day Workweek - it's coming for you!

woman lying on bed surrounded by polaroids wanting more in life

The traditional five-day workweek has been the norm for businesses since the early 1900s. But when Henry Ford brought in the five-day workweek in 1926, the business community was astonished - "how can you possibly get six days' work done in five?" In a recent conversation with a business leader they expressed a similar view to me about the four-day workweek. I was the one astonished - did he really think nothing had changed at work over the last 100 years? In fact, maybe he would like a six day workweek?

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to adopt a four-day workweek. This trend is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing importance of work-life balance, the rise of remote work, and the growing body of research that shows that shorter workweeks can actually lead to increased productivity. Check out the work being done by 4dayweek and this study which shows that 89% of employees would like a shorter week.

Where are the benefits of a four-day workweek?

For businesses, studies show a four-day workweek can lead to:

  • Increased productivity: employees who work shorter weeks can actually be more productive than those who work longer weeks. This is because they are less likely to be burned out and more likely to be focused on the things that matter.

  • Reduced absenteeism: When employees have more time to rest and recharge, they are less likely to call in sick. This can save businesses money on sick pay, temps, frustration in teams and delayed projects.

  • Lower turnover: Employees who are happy with their work-life balance are less likely to look elsewhere (maybe another employer that is offering a four-day workweek) - thank you decreased recruitment, turnover and training costs along with increased IP retention.

For employees, a four-day workweek can lead to:

  • Improved work-life balance: Employees have firmly told employers that there is more to their life than just work and that they value spending time with their whānau, friends, and personal interests.

  • Reduced stress: Work related stress is one of the major concerns in Aotearoa New Zealand. When employees are not working as many hours, they are less likely to experience stress, which can also lead to improved physical and mental health.

  • Increased motivation: We all know there is plenty of time at work which is... hmmm, less than productive, shall we say? Aka "how did I get stuck in this three hour meeting?" When we have a reduced number of hours available to us, we focus on the things that will deliver the outcomes and output that both the employee and the employer are looking for.

What is a four-day workweek?

A four-day workweek is typically a work schedule in which employees work four days per week, sometimes fixed days (eg, Monday to Friday) through to more flexible options (eg, the employee works any four days in seven) - it tends to depend on the circumstances and the organisational appetite for innovation. Some employees shift to working their full five-day hours over the four-days, some reduce hours and some reduce hours but continue to be paid the same because they can produce the same work in the shorter hours.

Is a four-day workweek right for every business?

Some businesses, such as those that operate in manufacturing, retail or customer service, may need to have employees available seven days per week. There are very succesful examples of organisations in those industries that have made that change to a four day workweek for the employees while still delivering a seven day service and have seen performance increase. However, for more traditional office based workplaces, it's a lot easier, especially given recent shifts to hybrid work. The key trick is to work collaboratively with employees to find the right solutions.

Just like employers in the 1920s took the radical step to go from a six day working week to five, we're at a moment where many employers (and employees) are trying to work out how we can now go to a four day workweek. If you have a leader that is resisting, maybe it's time to be running a 21st century business, help them to try a pilot and see what happens.

What do you think? Is a four-day workweek the future of work?

75 views0 comments


bottom of page