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The Four-day Workweek: What 13 Business Leaders Really Think

What is your opinion on the four-day workweek?

The workforce and workplace are constantly changing and have been especially turbulent these past few years. There’s been plenty of conversation about the effectiveness and permanence of remote working, but how solid are the talks about moving to a four-day workweek?

Well, here’s what 13 HR professionals and business leaders have to say about the shortened workweek looming on the horizon.

  • Not Attainable in Modern America

  • The Sooner it Becomes the Norm, the Better for Everyone

  • Companies Need to Independently Decide What Works

  • Helps Employees Work to Live, Not Live to Work

  • Four-Day Weeks Will Eliminate Good Workers

  • Four-Day Workweeks are not Optimal

  • Allow People to Choose Which Days They Work

  • Implement on a Case-by-Case Basis

  • Great On Paper, Less Practical in Practice

  • Offer as a Perk During Slower Periods

  • Provide the Chance to Sit on the Beach Once a Week

  • Improves Employees’ Job Satisfaction

  • Good for the Individual, Difficult for Collaboration

Not Attainable in Modern America

The four-day workweek will never happen in modern America without a social movement on the subject. Natural competition in a free market economy, like the United States, would result in those companies continuing to use a five-day workweek having a competitive advantage over those using a four-day workweek. Inevitably, the companies using a four-day workweek will return to a five-day workweek to compete. European countries are much more culturally suited to adopt a shortened workweek, and that movement has already begun in France and other European countries.

Robert Reder, Blythe Grace PLLC

The Sooner it Becomes the Norm, the Better for Everyone

If there is one thing we can take away from the last few years it’s that people and companies both thrive in a more flexible working environment. Employees gain huge benefits from empathic leadership that embrace them as people, rather than employees, and a four-day workweek would be the natural evolution of hybrid and work-from-home schemes in my mind.

The vast majority of four-day work week trials have proven to be wildly successful, especially when it comes to reputation management, hiring, and retention, often actually raising productivity despite the fewer hours in seats. Many countries in Europe are already eyeing legislation to move in this direction following successful pilot programs, Portugal being amongst the most progressive. Not every company will just be able to hack Friday out of their calendars, naturally, but organizing four-day shifts that cover every working day should be simple enough.

Dragos Badea, Yarooms

Companies Need to Independently Decide What Works

With new data showing the growing popularity of four-day workweeks across Europe and in select companies in the United States, the viability of four-day workweeks can no longer be ignored. That being said, I have found that the most successful examples of companies utilizing four-day workweeks do so alongside remote or hybrid working models.

The increased flexibility of hybrid work already allows for employees to take more control over their schedules and find a rhythm that works for them. Overall, I believe four-day workweeks are here to stay, but each company will need to make adjustments and decide whether or not it works for them.

Ubaldo Perez, Hush Anesthetic

Helps Employees Work to Live, Not Live to Work

A four-day workweek helps employees work to live, not live to work. A strict nine-hour workday, five days a week is exhausting. If workers can get the job done in less time, then why not implement it? Hustle culture causes a negative impact on employees, and leads to burnout over time. Not only does this new way of working improve productivity, but it also allows workers to focus on their own happiness and organize their day-to-day tasks in a way that makes sense.

Jodi Neuhauser, Ovaterra

Four-Day Weeks Will Eliminate Good Workers

Overall, it’s a bad idea not just for companies, but for a section of employees. Companies, particularly those in manufacturing and distribution, will find it to be a scheduling and logistical nightmare but that's not my primary concern.

My primary concern is employees who physically can't work 10-hour days. Younger people will, no doubt, love it because they have the ability and energy to work long days in hopes of a long weekend. However, the majority of those over 50 and those with physical challenges can't handle working 10-hour days. Companies can't fire them for that because that would be discrimination.

They’re good workers, are loyal, and have the skills. They just physically can't work 10 hours a day, but are too young to retire and not disabled enough to get government benefits. They still need to work to provide for their families. These are people with bad knees, heart patients, diabetics, or others that require regular rest, breaks, and health monitoring.

Bruce Tasios, Tasios Orthodontics

Four-Day Workweeks are not Optimal

A lot of people say that working just for eight hours, four days a week is the way to go, but I doubt that most of these people are productive throughout their eight hours of the work day. Productivity is not steady across an eight-hour day and most people can do in a six-hour work day, the same level of productivity they could in an eight, maybe 10% less. Maybe. There's no way anyone can remain 100% focused throughout eight hours at work (at least not through natural means).

In my opinion, to maintain productivity by working less, people should work closer to 30 hours per week (5x6) rather than eight hours a day, four days a week. It would make a lot more sense, and then most of us wouldn't need three days off to rest or to get our work done. That’s why I think that a four-day workweek is not an optimal solution.

Tomasz Bartczak, PhotoAiD

Allow People to Choose Which Days They Work

A four-day workweek is a novelty, just like a five-day workweek was a novelty when it was first introduced. Ford Motors was giving their employees a five-day workweek and the same pay while others were giving their employees six-day workweeks. In order to compete, the other companies needed to reduce the workweek as well.

Did it ultimately have a major impact? No.

Another thing to consider is how long you will be required to work on those days. Will people be more productive? Currently, out of our eight-hour days, only about three of those hours are spent working. Will a four-day workweek really change that? Whether it's a four-day week or a five-day week, the same amount of work will end up being done. What will be interesting is allowing people to choose the days they work.

Daniel Ndukwu, UsefulPDF

Implement on a Case-by-Case Basis

Harry Truman famously requested a one-handed economist as an advisor, so that he would never be told: "on the one hand… [and then] on the other". Four-day workweeks are already functionally practiced in a number of industries. In my world, it's common to have Hack-A-Thon or R&D-oriented Fridays, a chance to allow an engineering and knowledgeable staff to pursue passion projects that may turn into valuable ideas for the company.

In other zones, say the local pharmacy, it's another day where customers can't receive services, some vital. The biggest question for any business should be: "Can we effectively serve our customers in a way that allows us to grow through positive customer testimonials?" For an individual, the question should be: "What do I do with that extra day?" I believe a number of knowledge industries will get to the soft four-day workweek, where they allow room for personal development, exploration, and independent R&D.

Great On Paper, Less Practical in Practice

Four-day workweeks might sound great on paper, but the reality is that it simply isn’t practical for many businesses. With tight production deadlines, the only solution to keep up with our KPIs in a four-day workweek would be to either hire more people, which is costly, or create longer shifts for the days staff do work.

While the latter sounds like a viable solution, the reality is that working longer hours hinders performance for certain tasks which makes it not the best long-term solution. I’m not against the principle of four-day workweeks, but they have to be instituted on a case-by-case basis for it to make sense in the broader context of the working world.

Patrick Robinson, Paskho

Offer as a Perk During Slower Periods

My opinion on the four-day workweek is that many companies miss the mark by taking an all-or-nothing approach. Many employers think that four-day weeks need to be an all-the-time or never occurrence, and fail to see the opportunity in a compromise.

Within the last year, our company instituted a "light month" policy where twice a year, during July and January, workers get a free paid day off per week for the entire month. This approach helps offset overstaffing in slow seasons and gives employees a break to rest and recharge without committing to the decreased workload. While a full reduction would eventually seem routine, this occasional break feels like a perk.

Michael Alexis, tiny campfire

Provide the Chance to Sit on the Beach Once a Week

Imagine you're four days away from a vacation that will have you lying on a beach in Maui listening to the calming swirls of breezy palm trees and the soft musical stylings of the ukulele. How productive could you be? How much work could you accomplish if you knew that the stack on your desk, the emails in your inbox, or the calls on your voicemail all needed to be addressed and returned before you could walk out the door?

Would you get it done? Would you spend less time online shopping "just quickly" during the day? Would you spend less time on LinkedIn or social media during the day?

Chances are good those answers are yes! When we have time; we fill it. When we have five days to fill, we fill it with five days worth of work. If we have four days to fill, we will fill four days with five days of work—the volume remains the same. The less time we have to complete the work, the more timely work gets done. Want more productive workers? Provide a chance to sit on the beach once a week.

Stacy Berg Jackson, SBJ Consulting, Inc.

Improves Employees’ Job Satisfaction

I'm totally in favor of a four-day workweek because it not only gives the expected production boost, but it also increases job satisfaction among employees which in turn results in higher engagement and timely project completion. Those that have a four-day workweek will have a better time efficiently managing their work-life balance and will increase their loyalty toward the company.

And, in a way, this type of work nature will cut the running cost such as lunch, coffee and transportation of the employees for one more day. A four-day workweek benefits both employee and employer. However, it’s a great initiative for a business to increase the production, teamwork, and engagement among employees while focusing on employee health, well-being and work-life balance

Scott Krager, WODReview

Good for the Individual, Difficult for Collaboration

The way I see it there are two parallel trends here:

1. The increase in flexible remote working and for companies to accommodate people's lifestyle differences. 2. The trial of a four-day working week.

I believe these are great for the individual's productivity but may harm overall team productivity and collaboration with external organizations. This is because it's a 20% drop in time to communicate on projects, which may lead to them taking 20% longer to complete. This delay can already be seen by companies that work with employees in different time zones and will be compounded if the working week becomes 20% shorter.

If companies accommodate flexible working at the same time, e.g. the days of the working week aren't fixed, then it causes lag time in decisions being made, and could have a detrimental impact on business activities. Mix that with external organizations’' team members having different working hours and days, and the problem may be exasperated.