Is the 4-Day Work Week Worth Reconsidering?

September 15, 2021 | 293 views

Is the 4-Day Work Week Worth Reconsidering?
Is the 4-Day Work Week Worth Reconsidering?

A 4-day work week has always sounded attractive. Not too long, not unreasonably short. I could enjoy longer weekends and probably still get my work done each week before traveling on weekends to cheer on my son’s football team.

We’ve written about this idea before. What struck me recently was how the combination of pandemic-related demands for scheduling flexibility have combined with large movements to a 4-day week. Naturally, there are concerns about how some schedules might be too condensed and cause more harm than good. And even Utah’s government reverted to a traditional 5-day schedule after budget savings were not enough to outweigh citizen complaints about reduced availability (although local governments in Denmark, Spain, West Virginia, and Colorado have stayed with their 4-day weeks).

For some types of organizations, a 4-day week could work well. That depends on your organization and workflow and what your customers will readily accept. To avoid health concerns, it cannot be a compressed workweek, and if your customers need your services on their schedule (not yours), it might not be a good choice. But let’s look at some of the likely benefits:

  1. Profit goes up because overhead goes down. By cutting 20% of active hours, businesses see a corresponding reduction in most expenses. Rent and salaries may not change, but immediate increases in profit come from expense savings in electricity, office supply expenses, and fuel for fleets. As a side benefit, it may add to a cleaner globe.
  2. Workers might be much happier and healthier. For employees, expenses are also lower with less time commuting and, interestingly, they don’t miss work as often due to illness. One fewer day of stressful work improves employee satisfaction and engagement while reducing health problems.
  3. Productivity is high. In most cases, productivity rises significantly. From disbelief to success, there are stories of company transitions that demonstrate how a shorter week (with no less pay) is motivating and engaging, and how it results in improved efficiency,
  4. Tech is ready to help. From intracompany sharing apps to scheduling software, work projects are easily tracked and shared, even when employees work fewer days. Advancements help employees accomplish more, more quickly. And if we’re really getting bold, maybe AI and IT will get us to a 4-day week with only 5-hour days.

Although employers and employees see benefits, there remain your customers to consider. Just as Utah’s citizens did not like having less access to government services and workers, your customers might find your change inconvenient enough to choose another provider. You might need to shift plans or stagger days off. The increase in 4-day weeks is worth reconsidering, though. As more organizations transition to fewer days with good results, the trend will continue its upward climb.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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