The Case for the Four Day Work Week Gleeson Group

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The idea of a shorter work week is not a new one as studies and surveys have shownthat people are often more productive when they have less time to work smarter, not harder. Fifty-plus hour work weeks, which much of corporate America is all about these days, does not always mean higher productivity. The company works longer hours to make up for having Friday off, but the founder says that the system is working. Many companies and workers have succeeded with a condensed workweek and enjoyed benefits such as increased productivity and more time to pursue personal interests and goals. However, a four-day schedule does not work for all industries, businesses, or individuals.

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These nine companies have tried the four-day workweek and found that the setup works very well. Having fewer working hours can foster stronger bonds in the workplace. Relaxed employees will be better able to work with and connect, increasing team cohesion. A more cohesive team can support itself better, decreasing employee fatigue and burnout. Businesses must face the fact that employees have lives and responsibilities outside of the office.

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What’s worse is that due to the ‘always on’ nature of modern technology, many of these employees are actually having to work more. If the 4-day week was good for the rest of his employees, why would he roll it back? I think he’s being diplomatic in his explanation, as it doesn’t look good to insinuate in public that the failure of a bold idea was the fault of the employees. “The employees understood that we couldn’t lay off people and then turn around and say we weren’t going to work on Fridays,” Carson wrote in an email. After cutbacks designed to hasten Treehouse’s path to profitability, he said, he couldn’t reconcile the notion of laying off some workers while allowing others to work a shortened week. I was the founder and CEO of Treehouse, an online technology school that has taught 600,000+ students how to code.

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We have over 70,000 students at incremental cost and only 70 employees—and we only work 32 hours a week. I have been working 4 days a week since 2006 because I wanted time to dedicate to the people I love, and when people join the company they often wonder if we’re for real. Sometimes, they expect they’ll have to work 40 hours anyway—but they end up positively surprised. How are we able to achieve a customer-to-employee ratio of 1,000-to-1? When Oregon-based Treehouse, an online learning platform, reduced work days to four, 50 percent of their employees said they were spending more time with family and on hobbies.

Real-World Examples of the Four-Day Workweek: Companies That Have Successfully Made the Switch

You may have read that Iceland has successfully adopted a four-day workweek. But if you look at the U.S. data more carefully, you’ll find that high school- and college-age workers pull down the average. In 2021, 16- to 19-year-olds worked an average of 25 hours per week, and 20- to 24-year-olds worked 34.8 hours per week. Individuals ages 25 and older worked 39.6 hours per week on average.

The evidence that a four-day workweek benefits both a company and its employees is undeniable. There is no magical working setup that solves all productivity problems. The four-day workweek is a potent tool, so if you can do the above, then the answer is definitely yes. The goal of a four-day workweek is an improvement in work-life balance and employee well-being. Regularly evaluate the impact of the new work arrangement on employee well-being. Check in with employees to assess their satisfaction, stress levels, and overall happiness.

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Smaller companies—which need to attract workers and may embrace startup culture—tend to be more flexible to flexible work hours. The National Study of Employers found that 14% of small companies vs. 5% of large ones allow all or most employees to work a compressed schedule. Similar success with reducing the workweek have been experienced around the globe from Iceland to New Zealand. A trial program in Iceland was such an “overwhelming success” that now 86 percent of the nation’s workforce are either now working fewer hours or in the process of reducing their workweek. Based on these statistics, it appears that most adults in the United States now have nearly the equivalent of a four-day workweek and that workers in some other nations have even more time on their hands. But in 2016, Carson reinstated a 40-hour workweek at Treehouse and had to lay people off.

Challenges of a 4-day workweek

Encourage employees to collaborate with team members, delegate appropriate tasks, and leverage each other’s strengths to achieve collective goals. Continuous learning and professional development are essential for growth and success in any industry. You should invest in your employees’ development by providing opportunities for training, workshops, and skill-building programs.

  • Here in Portland we take pride in doing things differently for good reason.
  • This method involves setting clear goals and deadlines for each task and organizing them in order of priority.
  • Less traffic in both directions, more time in the morning to exercise and enjoy breakfast, easier to run errands in the afternoon.

These numbers show that the four-day workweek improves employee work-life balance, increases productivity, and makes people happier. Andrew Barnes implemented a 4-day workweek at his company Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand provider of estate planning services. His findings sparked a global fascination with the reduced work model and have become an example of qualitative analysis in favor of the four-day week movement.

Benefits of a 4-Day Workweek

EY CEO Ryan Carson said he doesn’t believe you have to work more to be successful. Treehouse is famous for their “awesome” work/life balance perks, and a lot of that has rippled through the tech scene. Whether or it meant his employees were delivering less work wasn’t mentioned. He felt like he had less of a work ethic, so it seemed to be nixed. But something is sure, if you have to commute, you’ll prefere working 4 days instead of 5.

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Regular monitoring and evaluation are crucial to measuring the effectiveness of the four-day workweek. Collect feedback from employees, supervisors, and other stakeholders to identify any challenges or areas of improvement. We’ve looked at the theory, but it would mean little without seeing the practice in action.

What Is a 4-Day Workweek?

Its current CEO, Ryan Carson, had previously implemented this technique in 2006. Publicly, he was singing the praises of the compacted week as recently as 2015, citing increased productivity and a more well-rounded existence as two of its advantages. Most of the workplaces ended up cutting back by only one to three hours a week, though they were able to maintain their productivity and provide the same level of service. The experiment did result in a nationwide decrease in hours worked, but only by 35 minutes in the private sector and 65 minutes in the public sector.

stress levels

I’ve tested various productivity tools to find the best way to set up my day. These routines have been the most helpful in conserving my energy levels and my ongoing attempt at a good work-life balance. Here’s why we think the shortened workweek is on the horizon—and what that means for you. For college students, identify every bit of recurring work outside your obligations and list out how many hours you spend on each. Stuff like readings, problem sets, and weekly writing assignments.

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Companies could benefit through increased sales, decreased worker burnout, and lower turnover, among other positives. You may have had to fight for Summer Fridays in your office, but soon, you may only be working four days a week. However, I’ll also list out general suggestions for those working a full-time job as this technique has been applied by all types of people who do some form of work. Delegating tasks to appropriate team members and collaborating with colleagues can help distribute workload and improve overall productivity.

A number of studies have shown that at some point, productivity decreases as the number of hours worked increases. Treehouse — a company that provides an online education platform — has their employees work a 32-hour work week since 2006. The four-day workweek also benefits the physical and mental health of employees. The extra time to rest or do activities other than work decreases employee stress significantly.

The company aimed to provide its employees with increased flexibility and more time to rest. The four-day workweek greatly benefited employees and improved their work-life balance. Whether a company transitions to the 4-day week will generally depend on each company and its leader’s approach to work culture. For some teams, the increased flexibility and autonomy will simply make sense, but for others, it might be a luxury that’s just out of reach at the moment.

According to reports, companies like Stanley Black & Decker and the Los Angeles Times have employed a four-day week to save money by reducing labor expenses by 20% for three months. U.S.-based Kickstarter will also run a four-day workweek trial in 2022. The company will be part of a pilot program in the U.S., called the 4 Day Week U.S.

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