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What is the 4 day work week?
The 4 day work week is a work schedule model that, as the name suggests, allows employees to work four out of five business days.
There are at least three variations of what the 4 day work week means:
Why is the 4 day work week becoming popular?
The four day work week is becoming increasingly popular, with Atlassian and Microsoft Japan among its adopters.
This model is indeed gaining traction in the US. In Digital.com’s survey of 1,300 business owners in the US, 27% have already switched to a four-day workweek, and 35% are thinking about it.
The increasing popularity of the 4 day work week model is arguably due to the ability to defer routine, repetitive tasks to automated technology. Automation takes care of those tasks, freeing up employee time to focus on critical business tasks.
However, the idea is not catching on everywhere. In fact, the openness to adopting this model depends on the extent to which a given company’s employee base works remotely. In turn, it also depends on the business type and industry.
Benefits and motivators of the 4 day work week
Business leaders cite the following reasons for implementing the four day work week or at least considering it. The benefits and reasons are listed below in order from most to least influential in leaders’ decisions:
Other benefits that a company may reap from this model include:
In contrast to the companies with largely or completely remote employees, the majority of companies whose workforce is less than half remote or not at all are not considering this idea at all. Why might that be?
Challenges of the 4 day work week
Factors to consider before piloting the 4 day work week
The four day work week is not a one-size-fits-all approach that all companies can and should implement. Before deciding whether to try it, consider the industry, certain roles within the company, and individual work styles.
Some industries lend themselves to a 4 day work week more than others. The types of jobs that one performs on a computer, like in the tech industry, for instance, can more easily shift to a 4 day work week that emphasizes results over hours worked.
The manufacturing and logistics industries, on the other hand, is likely not going to widespread adoption of the 4 day work week anytime soon, due to backlogs, supply chain choke points, and labor shortages.
Similar dynamics prevent the healthcare industry from reducing the number of workdays. And this is precisely the industry whose workers could use the extra day to recharge. However, the pandemic and labor shortages in the medical field make the extra day off a formidable hurdle.
It’s difficult to make the case for a four day work week for some functions within a company.
Customer service or tech support, for example, are service-based, high-demand functions. Though reduced hours per week would benefit the employees, the customers, and thus also the company as a whole would likely suffer.
The 4 day work week is not for everyone, so it’s important to consider an opt-in approach for maximum flexibility rather than a mandate.
While some may thrive on concentrated periods of deep work with little social interaction, others thrive on intermittent breaks and interactions with co-workers.
In a truly people-first organization, employees will have the choice of how they work without judgment.
Tips for implementing a 4 day work week
Leaders who are considering or planning to roll out a shortened workweek can take the following measures to maximize the chances of success:
Would a shorter week work for your company?
Even if the 4 day work week is garnering more attention, that doesn’t mean every company can and should adopt it. Data suggests that certain industries and business types may be more conducive to a four day work week than others. It’s therefore imperative for business leaders to take factors like industry, key functions, and workplace culture into account.
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