The 4-day work week has been a major topic of discussion in recent years, but is there a downside? We'll take a look and the pros and cons of a 4-day work week.
Debate over implementing a 4-day work week continues as more companies and industries recognize the potential benefits it could provide. While further observations need to be done, the immediate positive effects include a better work/life balance for employees, increased productivity, and a reduction in business costs.
The logic behind it suggests that employees will be refreshed and more motivated. In addition, as businesses or companies would be operating for one less day a week, there is the potential to reduce operational costs and in turn, the adverse effects many industries have on the environment.
The 4-Day Work Week: Pros & Cons
Way back in 1926 Henry Ford famously said, ‘A five-day work week is not the ultimate, nor is an eight-hour work day.’ Nearly a hundred years later, it seems that many employers are catching up to this notion. However, as positive a step towards a 4-day work week would be for employees, it is most certainly not suited to every business model.
For one, certain companies would have to entirely reshape their business model, which could be costly and not economically sustainable in the long-term. Another factor is the possible extension of work hours on a 4-day work week structure, which could actually increase work-related stress for workers.
If a healthy balance could be achieved by industries that already lend themselves toward a 4-day week baseline, it has been shown that companies would definitely glean benefits in the long run. These positive aspects would include reduced business costs when it comes to the daily costs of office space, not to mention that employees would save money on their commutes to and from work each week.
Having a three-day weekend would be a huge plus for employees, giving them that precious time with family, or simply indulging in their own personal interests and hobbies, which will aid in nurturing good physical and mental wellbeing.
This healthy work/life balance would help towards maintaining a fresh and content workforce, where employees are more likely to stick with the company long-term, reducing the need for regular rehiring and recruitment. There is also a growing consensus that a shorter working week would cultivate a pool of employees who are more focused on their tasks, and could even aid in increasing overall productivity.
American Companies Leading By Example
In the midst of the pandemic some major players trialed a 4-day work week. These included US tech giant Microsoft, electronics company Panasonic, and multinational consumer goods company Unilever. Their goal was to assess the effects and benefits of such a work structure, with much of their findings being quite positive. Other major companies in the US have continued this trend, with some businesses such project management platform Basecamp in Chicago, Illinois, offering a seasonal 4-day work week since 2008.
Since early 2020 onwards, other companies have been offering a 4-day work week to their employees, including:
- Nectafy, a Boston-based growth-content company
- Bolt, an intelligent payments platform
- Buffer, a social media management firm
- thredUP, online platform for selling secondhand clothes
Other major US companies now following this trend and moving towards and/or trialing a 4-day work week include the Brooklyn-based crowd funding platform Kickstarter, PR agency Praytell, web content protection specialist DNSFilter in Washington, DC, and web developer G2i in Delray Beach, Florida.
Looking Towards the Future
Given the increased pace of our current lifestyles, steps toward a 4-day work week hints at a future where individuals could cultivate a more healthy work/life balance, where instances of burnout due to overwork would become less frequent. This topic continues to be seriously explored by government and companies around the world, illustrating the fact that the myriad benefits will in most instances likely outweigh the downsides of such a business approach.
While some more research and work needs to be undertaken, offering a flexible work setting will allow people more agency over their daily work lives, leading to a more content and energized work culture. Although this 4-day work structure is not applicable to every occupation, the fact that companies, both small and major across a range of industries, are now considering issues of sustainability, social justice, fairness, and equity as part of their employment cultures, the future does seem to be promising in many areas.
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