Embracing the evolution of work: The rise of the four-day workweek

During and after the pandemic, workers worldwide have experienced greater flexibility and a work-from-home lifestyle. However, employees have recently shifted their expectations towards shortened working hours. In particular, a four-day workweek is now preferred by the global workforce, as it offers numerous benefits for both employees and employers. With the changing preferences of the workforce, the next steps are in the hands of employers.

The Preference for a Four-Day Workweek

According to a recent Bankrate report, a four-day workweek is more popular among full-time workers in the US. Specifically, 81% of the full-time workforce supports a four-day workweek, while 64% prefer fully remote work, and 68% prefer hybrid work over fully in-person work.

A four-day workweek trial was conducted with the attendance of 33 companies and 903 workers over six months. After the trial, the vast majority reported they would not go back to a five-day workweek after it had ended.

A survey conducted by 4 Day Week Global shows that 97% of the 495 respondents want to stay with a four-day workweek and so do the 27 companies that responded.

Surprising Benefits of a Four-Day Working Week

Higher productivity. In 2019, Microsoft Japan conducted an experiment called the “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” where they implemented a four-day workweek during the summer. The results indicated a 40% increase in productivity, suggesting that a shorter workweek can lead to higher efficiency.

There were similar results from Perpetual Guardian when it conducted a two-month trial of a four-day workweek for its employees. The trial reported improved work-life balance, reduced stress levels, and maintained or even increased productivity levels.

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Increased mental well-being and physical health. A study by the Henley Business School found that a four-day workweek led to a 25% reduction in stress levels among participants. Lower stress levels are associated with improved mental health and overall well-being. Overall, a four-day workweek can contribute to a better work-life balance, allowing employees to recharge and relax, which, in turn, can positively impact their overall health and well-being.

Positive environmental impact. Reduced work days led to a decrease in weekly commuting time, dropping from 3.5 hours to just under 2.6 hours, marking a 27% reduction. What was even more surprising was the decline in car commuting, with the percentage of employees using cars dropping from 56.5% to 52.5%.

A prior study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that a 10% reduction in working hours resulted in an 8.6% decrease in an individual’s carbon footprint. This led the lead researcher, economist Juliet Schor, to argue that a shorter workweek plays a crucial role in reducing global carbon emissions

The Future of Work

Besides hybrid and remote working models, a four-day workweek is emerging as a new choice bringing outstanding benefits for both employees and employers. However, it takes a lot of time and effort for companies to redesign their operational strategy when adopting this approach. They need to consider several crucial factors to ensure a successful transition:

Scheduling and workload. Determine how to distribute work and responsibilities across the four days to avoid overburdening employees. Are there ways to adapt workload distribution for optimal results?

Staffing and resources. Analyze the staffing needs during the new schedule. Is there a need for additional hires, or can current resources be efficiently allocated?

Communication and collaboration. Evaluate how the four-day workweek might impact communication and collaboration within the organization. What tools and strategies will be used to ensure seamless interaction among employees?

Client and customer expectations. Consider the impact on client and customer expectations. Will the altered schedule affect client services, and if so, how will these expectations be managed?

Adopting a four-day workweek can be a transformative step for an organization, but careful planning and consideration of these factors are essential to ensure a smooth transition and reap the benefits it offers.

Thuy Doan

Thuy Doan
Thuy Doan is founder and CEO of Innovature BPO.

Thuy Doan

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