Small business owners are familiar with the feeling of soaking up 3-day long weekends, not quite ready to return to the office on Tuesday morning. As the years have progressed, the conversation around a four-day work week has become increasingly popular. The concept, which was once a far-off fantasy, is now closer to becoming a reality. In fact, many companies have already explored enforcing this.
I know what you’re probably thinking—Should you consider implementing this for your own business? How are you going to get all of the work done in such a short period of time?
Increasing number of research and studies have been showing the advantages of a shorter work week. So whether you’ve not heard of the idea, or you’re deciding whether or not it’s right for your business, these benefits will guide you in making the right decision for you and your team.
The History Of The Four Day Work Week
Did you know that there used to be seven-day work weeks? It dates back to thousands of years ago with the Babylonians. They put high importance to heavenly bodies. So since they believed there were seven planets, they created a seven-day week to honor this. To maximize productivity, they worked every single day.
By the late 1880s, workers in the country were flooding the streets— rioting and fed up with the nonstop labor. After multiple workers and police officers were killed during the protests, the eight-hour day/40-hour work week came about. While this was an appropriate first step, overtime and maximum wage have not been written into history until FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Since then, we’ve been working within the premises of this standard for over 90 years. But economist John Maynard Keyes predicts that we’d be down to 15-hours a week within the century due to technological advancements. How fascinating is that?
Benefits Of A Four Day Work Week
While salaries may not necessarily change, working a four-day workweek can actually cut costs for everyone. Not only is it one less day that you will be using utilities and equipment, but your employees are also saving money on commuting costs. It’s also a day less that they get tempted to buy lunch at their favorite cafe near the office, or their usual cup of coffee to keep them energized throughout the day.
In a study done by Andrew Barnes, owner of Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand, employees spent 35% less time on non-work related sites. They actually stored their phones in lockers, installed soundproof meeting spaces, and shortened meetings. Because they understood that time was limited, they made the most of what they had. This allowed them to get miscellaneous household and life responsibilities taken care of outside of work; making them less likely to infringe on their work.
Another study done by Stanford University found that overworked employees are less productive. They’re also more likely to call out sick. There’s a reason that countries with an average 27-hour work week—such as Norway, Denmark, and Germany—are ranked as some of the most productive places in the world.
Increased Mental Health
When given an extra day off, it has been found that people spend their time tending to their physical and mental health needs. The long weekend gives them the opportunity to work out, spend time with close friends and family, and do the things they genuinely enjoy. They will be feeling recharged after spending that time for themselves, which may lead to increased productivity and efficiency.
Related: How To Save Yourself From Burn Out
More Time For Family
Speaking of friends and family, having a shorter work week actually makes things easier for those with children who typically rely on childcare. One of the main reasons mothers do not go back to work after giving birth is the cost of childcare, or the idea of spending less time with their children. A shorter work week allows them to save money and juggle the responsibilities of work and home.
It’s Better For The Environment
Any small changes that we can make to reduce our carbon footprint are worth looking into. Think about how much time people spend commuting to and from the office every single day. Then think about how much pollution is emitting into our air. According to Forbes, adding a day to our weekend would reduce carbon emissions by 45 million metric tons!
If there is one thing that we learned from 2020 (up to this point), it’s that employees now demand for more flexibility from their employers. The majority of people believe that having flexible hours can improve their quality of life. Offering this to future employees helps them feel more comfortable with your business, achieve work-life, and attain fulfillment—they will want to prolong their time working for your company.
Examples Of A Four Day Work Week
- The Society of Human Resource Management reported that as of 2019, 23% of businesses implemented a four-day week. ZipRecruiter also mentioned that the postings with three-day weekends have tripled in 2021.
- Microsoft implemented a trial in 2019 that found that a four-day work week led to a 40% boost in productivity
- Spain became one of the first countries in the world to test out the new work approach in March 2021.
- Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, will begin testing this setup in 2022.
- During the pandemic, Buffer, a social media scheduler, launched the four-day work week. After looking at their 6-months of a shortened week, they decided to keep the model for the foreseeable future.
Final Thoughts On A Four Day Work Week
While we may not be quite at the point of normalizing a four-day work week, there are multiple factors that prove we should advance in that direction. For many, it may be a hard concept to wrap their heads around with. Though it may not be a fitting idea across all industries, it could potentially be the future of work life as we know it.
Are you inclined to give it a try? Do you frown down on the idea? If you are a small business owner, we would love to hear your thoughts on this matter!