Four-day Week. Are we ready for change?

Jamie Sharp

Writer & Blogger

A four-day working week sounds great – right? But does it boost morale and increase productivity?

Going back to the early 1900’s, we were first introduced to the 5-day working week when in 1908, a cotton mill in New England United States shut its factory on a Saturday. Shortly after in 1926, Henry Ford followed suit, being one of the first major companies to shut its factory doors over the weekend and implementing the 40-hour week.

And so, the 40-hour, 5-day working week was born.

Fast forward over 9 decades, and we are now considering change again in the form of a 4-day working week and the benefits this change can have on engagement, productivity, success and well-being.

We all get excited about the idea of having a three-day weekend.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages for employers and employees working a four-day week?

Advantages of a shorter week:

  • Reduce Stress. Reducing the number of days in the office allows an extra day for rest and helps prevent burnout. It also allows employees to take part in hobbies or family commitments which has also been proven to reduce stress.
  • Increase productivity. Employees feel more in control with a better work life balance. The idea of a three-day weekend gives them the drive and engagement needed to increase productivity. This increase in productivity contributes to the overall success of the company.
  • Cost saving. Studies have shown that closing the office for an extra day has reduced energy and maintenance bills. This also has a direct benefit to our environment.

Disadvantages of a shorter week:

  • Not all industries are able to commit. Companies that offer or require a 24/7 service may not be able to participate in the shorter working week.
  • Longer hours. Some employers may want to adopt the 4-day working week but not want to reduce the number of working hours. For some people, compressing the normal 40-hour week into 4 days will work perfectly. But for others, it may not work as well. This in turn could have the opposite affect and increase stress levels and failure to meet deadlines.
  • Loss of opportunity. There would also be the factor that your business could lose out on potential opportunities. By reducing the number of working days, this could impact you if your competition is open and are able to swoop up that new client.

So, is this way of working something we can expect to see in the future? Countries such as Japan, Sweden and New Zealand have already put the four-day working week to the test and have seen success from it.

Like anything, working a four-day week has its pros and cons and can work well if it is implemented into the correct working environment.

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