Some employees may not like the current “traditional” work week of 9-5, 5 days per week, but anyone familiar with history can point out that the “traditional” work week prior to the current one consisted of even more hours in typically more dangerous working conditions. Some employees, while appreciating the history of the current “traditional” work week have a strong enough passion for finding an improvement that they will seek it out. As such, employees at a growing number of companies have pushed for a 4-day work week. The results of this new type of work week are the topic of this article.
To be clear up front, this article will discuss 4-day work weeks where they previously did not exist. Some industries like emergency services have been operating on a 4-day work week, or something similar to it, for a long time. Next, the type of employee being discussed will be traditional full-time employees, not part-time or seasonal employees who work 4 days per week but for various reasons are classified as different types of employees.
The first question employers looking to change to a 4-day work week must answer is what to do with the hours from the “missing” day. Most employers take those hours (8 for a standard work day) and spread them out evenly among the other days to make 4 10-hour days. Some leave it up to the employees to create their own schedule and add the extra 8 hours wherever they see fit. The rarest model pursued by companies is to not reallocate those hours and let it be an incentive to employees to be more productive. They are expected to complete the same amount of work but if they can do it in 32 hours instead of 40, they earn themselves a nice 3-day weekend.
Ultimately most companies that try a new 4-day work week are reporting higher employee satisfaction and employee retention as employees can spend more time with their friends/family. This is frequently the case with tech/IT companies. Most weekends are 3-days and in the situations where holidays fall adjacent to the weekend, that can get bumped up to 4 or more. As gas prices continue to hover at high levels, employees also report saving money on gas commuting in to the office 4 days instead of 5.
There are a few companies that gave a 4-day work week a shot but decided it wasn’t for them. These situations are typically industry-specific, where a certain level of presence is needed Monday through Friday (or all 7 days of the week). These are companies where they have a highly visible front end, aka are much involved with customer service. There are other companies where the demand is so high that they can’t afford to cut back on hours, such as a manufacturing facility for steel or microchips.