From as far back as 1956, President Nixon predicted that the four-day workweek was closer than most people might think. Today, it is indeed a reality for many employees. In most of these instances, people work 10-hour shifts for four days per week. Still, this is not quite what Nixon meant. Instead, he and many others before him predicted that the workweek would consist of fewer hours overall.
Additionally, people who work “full-time” shifts consist of working 30 to 36 hours and cover all their bills would fit into this category. The real question many people have is whether it works. What benefits does it have for employees and their employers? What about the disadvantages?
The 4-Day Workweek Pros
One New Zealand company decided to participate in an experiment that allowed employees to work 30-hour weeks over the span of four days. The advantages outlined here reference this study as well as other studies that have been completed over the past few years:
Better Work-Life Balance: In the New Zealand study, 24% of employees reported that they found it much easier to balance their work and personal lives.
Lower Stress: In the New Zealand study, the stress levels for everyone involved decreased by roughly 7%. This is powerful, considering the high levels of employee burnout around the world.
Increased Job Satisfaction: Work satisfaction among all employees climbed by 5%. This is surprisingly low considering the opportunity to work fewer hours.
Improved Efficiency: Employees still needed to complete the same volume of work during the 30 hours, so it compelled them to become more efficient.
Reduced Overhead Costs: If everyone works the same four days, then that’s one extra day of no costs related to heating, cooling, electricity and water. Working fewer hours each day also reduces energy costs.
Less-Expensive Labor: There are many people around the world who deliberately ask for reduced hours and the opportunity to work remotely. In these instances, it can reduce the overall cost of labor for the employer.
Lower Unemployment Rates: During the Great Recession and other economic downturns, many jurisdictions and companies around the world turned to reduced workweeks to tackle unemployment.
More Sustainable: The fewer times per week people need to commute to and from work, the fewer cars are on the roads. This means lower rates of emissions get pumped into the air.
The 4-Day Workweek Cons
No system is perfect. Therefore, here are some of the downsides of the four-day workweek:
High Risk: Even for salaried workers, there is no guarantee that employees will finish the work in less than 40 hours that they used to do in 40 or more. This can lead to decreased productivity.
Costly When Mandatory: When companies are forced to reduce the legal full-time workweek, such as in France, employees often end up needing to work the same hours. The difference is that now they also get overtime.
Wasted Human Resources: One of the reasons people end up working more hours is because they want to. When this option is taken away or requires overtime pay, it can cause human resources to go to waste.
Difficulty Choosing Days: If the company chooses to open its doors for only four days, which four should it be? Do employees want a long weekend off with Monday or Friday added? Or, would they prefer a mid-week break on Wednesday?
The Factors Affecting Compatibility
There are no business recommendations that suits all companies. How well the four-day workweek works for your company depends on a few factors:
Number of Employees: If your business needs to remain open 24/7, you need enough employees to cover all shifts while working just four days per week.
Employee Willingness: Some people genuinely look forward to going to work every day and may resist a four-day workweek.
Compensation: Hourly workers may push back more against reduced hours than salaried workers because making a livable income is at greater risk in these instances.
The Bottom Line
The four-day workweek is not for everyone, but it has several benefits for compatible businesses. How you plan your workspace will also be affected, especially if you ultimately decide to let some employees work from home. Contact ROSI at 713-766-5722 for information on how we can help you redesign your space to meet your reduced needs.
The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek | ROSI Office Systems Inc. – Houston, TX