The evolution of the labor market has contributed to a widespread reduction in the number of working days and hours. The reason for these changes is a scientific and technical revolution, as well as the automation of many processes at enterprises, the struggle of workers for their rights, and other factors.
Nevertheless, working hours sometimes get even longer today. The reason is numerous messengers, which allow you to be online 24/7, blurring the line between personal life and work. And as a result, many people suffer from “burnout.”
To prevent this, some companies switch to a 4-day workweek with the same 8-hour work day. Such a model improves the balance between employees’ personal life and work and increases productivity.
In 2019, 15% of organizations offered four-day workweeks to some of their employees, up from 13% in 2017. These job opportunities mainly presented the most progressive and swiftly developing dimensions of software engineering, digital marketing, fintech, and crypto jobs.
It turns out that shortening the working week does not lead to a loss of productivity, and yet there are certain nuances here.
In this post, we will go over:
- What does a 4-day workweek look like?
- Differences between Compressed and Shortened workweek
- The advantages of a 4-day workweek
- The disadvantages of a 4-day workweek
- Potential cost savings of the 4-day workweek
- The hidden cost of the 4-day workweek
- What can technology do to help?
When it comes to reducing the length of the working week to four days, it most often means that the gross amount of wages will remain the same while reducing the total number of working hours.
Foremost, the four-day workweek is considered in two variants:
- Compressed workweek
- Shortened workweek.
This approach is that the eight-hour workday, which is currently worked in a five-day workweek, is compressed into a ten-hour workday in a four-day workweek. Employees perform the same work but during a longer working day.
For example, Elephant Ventures, a small New York-based software company, switched to a compressed work schedule during the pandemic. Instead, female employees now have more working time to perform targeted and in-depth work.
This approach reduces the workload to 32 hours per week, while employees’ wages remain unchanged (in most cases). This model is called 100:80:100. Employees receive 100% of their salary while working 80% of their working hours while providing 100% of their productivity.
However, there are about as many ways to shorten the workweek as there are companies.
For example, Buffer, a small tech company based in the US, offers its employees the opportunity to work 32-hour workweeks with full pay. The company’s work schedule is flexible enough to allow employees to control their schedule, if necessary, independently. That is, 73% of Buffer employees work four days a week, and 27% work more than four days, usually half a day on Friday.
Before implementing a 4-day workweek, it is worth exploring how it can benefit your employees and business.
Reducing the week to 4 days can be a strong motivation for employees. It is seen as an effective way of supporting employees in and out of the workplace. Such programs encourage employees to work harder to obtain or maintain benefits.
For instance, 3D Issue permanently switched to a 4-day workweek after most of their employees opted for a four-day working week over a 20% pay rise.
According to Henley Business School’s survey of business leaders on the cost-effectiveness of the four-day workweek, approximately 51% of respondents reported cost savings. These funds include expenses for communal services and rent of premises. Furthermore, about two-thirds of respondents reported increased employee productivity.
According to the same survey, 62% of interviewed managers reported that employees take less sick leave when working only 4 days. Employees can better plan personal needs and plans when they have an extra day off.
Therefore, Abstract a design workflow platform opts for alternating four-day weekends for their employees to have more time to spend with friends and family and, as a result, reduce unexpected short-term leaves.
A Microsoft Japan study in 2019 found that switching to a 4-day workweek increased employee productivity by 40%. Also, the company was able to save approximately 20% of energy costs compared to previous years. In addition, printed pages have also decreased by as much as 60%.
For instance, Administrate, a Scottish tech company, adopted a four-day workweek in 2015, inspired by their founder John Peebles who grew up in China and saw firsthand their switch from the six-day to a five-day working week in 1995 with no loss in productivity.
Avoiding burnout and focusing on wellness is a great way to retain employees. A 2020 Gallup study of more than 10,000 workers found that workers who only worked 4 days a week had lower levels of burnout. 63% of respondents also reported their greater “prosperity of well-being.”
Arken.legal, switched to a 4-day workweek in October 2020 and found out that 81% of their employees are more likely to stay with the company due to this novelty.
While the competition for talent in the labor market is growing, the best candidates are looking for better opportunities, which may also include tight work schedules. According to research by ZipRecruiter, the number of job postings with a 4-day workweek has tripled over the past 5 years. Due to the pandemic and employment problems, this trend will only increase.
For example, since the switch to a 4-day workweek, The Wanderlust Group witnessed a whopping 800 percent increase in the number of applications to their job postings. Furthermore, the retention rate reached 98% because of the same reason.
All business leaders want their employees to take full responsibility for their work. If the company switches to a 4-day workweek, you should understand one important rule – you are trusted to do your job.
Thus, Yac operates a four-day workweek to give its people more autonomy and flexibility. With a 32-hour workweek, they witnessed their employees get their work done while traveling the world, giving back to their communities, and starting passion projects.
The company’s transition to a 4-day workweek will reduce the use of automobiles by employees, significantly reducing emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, the use of electricity in the office will also decrease.
Being a leader and reliable guide to a more sustainable living, Carbon Switch is also working on health and environmental improvements for its employees. For the sake of ecology saving, the company offers a four-day workweek, four weeks of paid vacation each year, and a competitive healthcare plan.
Nevertheless, before switching to a compressed workweek, you should follow some compensation methods to get the benefit, as the 4-day workweek program also has drawbacks.
The need for a company to have a team constantly available to customers can limit a company’s ability to shorten the workweek. In some 4-day-week companies, half of the employees work until Monday and the other half until Friday to ensure full customer coverage. Many managers fear there will be no good outreach to colleagues and clients.
Despite some fantastic environmental results and employee and employer benefits, the Utah study also spotted decreased customer satisfaction: Customers complained that they couldn’t access government services with offices closed on a Friday.
Internal planning can also cause problems.
Working a 4-day workweek makes collecting emergency or impromptu meetings very difficult. If employees are working one day less, brainstorming sessions can bring very little value to the company.
Understanding how often a company needs to hold such meetings can determine the feasibility of introducing a 4-day workweek.
While the results of employee productivity in a 4-day workweek are good in some companies, these results can be very different in others. Firstly, this may depend on the level of maturity and commitment of the company’s employees.
Depending on employees’ level of responsibility, managers should evaluate how much flexibility in the schedule they can give.
It is expected that the work and productivity of employees with a limited work schedule will remain at the same level as on a traditional schedule. But employees with limited hours can still expose the company to the risk of overtime pay if they have to work additional weekends.
For instance, a controversial experiment with a six-hour workday in one of Sweden’s largest cities proved a 22% increase in city costs. This increase was caused by the need to hire additional staff for some positions due to the compression of the working hours.
Of course, everyone likes a three-day weekend. Often this is how a 4-day workweek is built-in in companies (Monday or Friday is a day off). In order not to lose the benefit of another day off, employees may experience additional stress on workdays.
One recent study from New Zealand examined the impact of a four-day workweek on financial services company employees. It found that increased pressure from management to monitor and measure performance created an even more stressful work environment.
Depending on the company’s size, weekly compensation reductions for some benefits and accurate spending management can save companies thousands each month.
For instance, switching to a 4-day workweek can save 20% on energy bills. Also, part-time employees use less stationary, printers, and copy machines. With this work policy, fewer cleaning services are used. For companies, troughs paying $4,000 a month to clean offices can save approximately $9,600 a year.
Also, employee benefits companies offer their employees, such as travel compensation, company meals, or child care, can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, a 4-day workweek policy can still help reduce employee wages.
But even without a pay cut, companies can count on lower bonuses for in-demand employees if it promotes a favorable work-life balance. Thus, the 4-day workweek is especially attractive for one of the most important demographic groups of employees – young mothers, who are paid 20% less, as they often clear up extra days off.
Additional read: 7 Ways To Reduce Recruitment Costs In 2023
The costs involved in introducing a four-day workweek policy for businesses may be disproportionate to the commercial benefits it may generate. Also, the price of increasing wages and additional means to improve work performance in companies where a fifth of employees already work part-time can be high.
In companies, it is essential to retain talent and channel those costs into, for example, developing existing staff, training courses, or increasing benefits. When introducing a 4-day workweek, it is vital to make sure that any changes in the company are in line with the needs of individuals and the company itself.
In addition, a decisive factor for switching to a four-day workweek is the industry in which the company works. This presupposes having a firm knowledge of how tough is the competition, how secure is the organization’s market edge, and how strong is the profitability. Thus, for some companies, reducing working hours may decrease income and even result in bankruptcy at some point.
What can technology do to help?
A 4-day workweek can go extremely well if planned and managed correctly. If you are a recruiter or an in-house HR team, there are numerous good software that can help you optimize processes and manage employees and applicants.
Recruiteze offers a solution that can help both with applicant tracking, and resume sourcing and reformating. Check our applicant tracking software ATS Recruiteze, and resume reformatting tool iReformat.
With the right tools, 4 days a week can be more than enough to excel at your job!
Even though companies from different countries are conducting experiments to reduce the length of the working week, it is still too early to talk about a full-scale transition to a new model of working time organization.
However, if you wish, you can already find vacancies today where employees are offered to work for four days, with the USA being no exception in this matter.