1. What is a 4 day work week?
A 4 day work week is an alternative work schedule system whereby employees work their full-time workload (typically 40 hours per week) within four days instead of the traditional five days. Some people also call this arrangement a compressed work week. However, while employees would work only four days and gain an additional day off every week, they’ll still be required to complete their weekly hours, usually 40. This means working longer hours, usually 10 hours per day.
On the bright side, employees that work in a 4 day work week system will also have longer weekends (usually a three-day weekend) due to the extra day off.
The general goal of the 4 day work week concept is to boost employee productivity while helping achieve better work-life balance and job satisfaction. Employees are also less likely to experience work burnout with this system.
2. Pros of a 4 day work week
2.1. Improved work-life balance
One of the more significant advantages of a 4 day work week is that it allows employees to again have a better handle on their work-life balance. Since employees get an additional day off each week, they have more time to dedicate to their personal life, including spending time with family and friends, hobbies, and other commitments.
Helping your employees achieve better work-life balance not only improves their well being, but can also result in increased loyalty and higher retention rates
2.2. Reduced stress and burnout
A 4 day work week can also help lower stress levels within your organization and reduce the chances of burnout. By reducing the number of days in a work week, your employees get longer breaks between the last day of work and the first day in a new week. As a result, they have more time to disconnect from work-related stressors, recover, and recharge.
Moreover, the reduced number of workdays can alleviate feelings of burnout that often result from a constant and demanding work schedule.
2.3. Increased productivity
While it does not seem likely at face value, adopting a 4 day work week arrangement can lead to increased productivity among your employees.
Since you typically have shorter weeks, employees experience a greater sense of urgency and focus more since they have limited time. This can provide the drive to prioritize tasks more effectively and work more efficiently. Besides, the anticipation of the much closer weekend is also more motivation.
2.4. Higher motivation and engagement
Another reason you should consider implementing a 4 day work week system is that it can work wonders for employee motivation and workplace engagement. After all, a compressed work week offers a lot of attractions — from a longer weekend to better work-life balance, and more. As a result, employees feel more valued by their organization and are more motivated to work.
2.5. Improved focus and efficiency
A 4 day work week system also provides an opportunity for employees to maximize their focus and efficiency. With fewer workdays, individuals are encouraged to eliminate non-essential tasks, streamline processes, and prioritize their most critical responsibilities. This heightened focus enables employees to complete their work with greater accuracy, attention to detail, and quality.
2.6. Enhanced employee well-being
Another perk of the 4 day work week approach is that it prioritizes the well being of your employees by offering an additional day off, every week. As a result, individuals have more time to engage in activities that are beneficial to their physical and mental health, including hobbies, exercise, spending quality times with family and friends, and even self care.
2.7. Decreased overhead costs
Finally, a 4 day work week can also have positive effects on your account books. Since employees only need to come into work four times every week instead of five, you can save more money on operational costs such as energy bills, utility expenses, and even office supplies. These cost savings can contribute towards financial stability, increased profits, and growth opportunities.
3. Cons of a 4 day work week
3.1. Longer working hours lead to exhaustion
While a 4 day work week means that employees get to work for fewer days in a week, it also often means that they need to work for longer hours to complete their 5-day workload. As a result of the extended working hours, fatigue and exhaustion may set in. However, the longer weekends may help balance things.
3.2. Difficulty in adjusting schedules
A 4 day work week may be an attractive proposition, but it can take some getting used to in terms of scheduling and coordination. More often than not, it can take a while for team members and managers to achieve smooth operations after the transition from five days to four.
Although this adjustment period may cause workflow disruptions, it should balance out with intentional management and starting yielding positive results.
3.3. Impact on customer service and support
Next on the 4 day work week pros and cons is the issue of how a 4 day work week system may impact your customers. Depending on your industry, adopting a 4 day week may affect customer service or client support. However, putting adequate alternative measures in place to ensure your customers are catered for on off-days should address this potential problem.
3.4. Financial implications
More often than not, a shorter work week usually results in lower operational costs, in terms of utilities and even staff. However, it is not always the case. As a result, businesses must take the time to carefully assess the impact of implementing a 4 day work week to ensure that it is beneficial and sustainable.
3.5. Unsuitability for some industries
In some cases, a 4 day work week system may be extremely challenging or outrightly impractical. This may be due to customer demands, operational requirements, or related reasons. For instance, some industries handle time-sensitive operations which can make adopting a shorter work week without compromising on service quality much more challenging.
4. Tips for Implementing a 4 day Workweek
4.1. Assess feasibility
Before implementing a 4 day workweek, you’ll need to carry out feasibility studies to confirm that the system aligns with your type of business, operational requirements, and the needs of your clients. Depending on the potential implications on productivity and costs, you may consider a compressed work week as a viable option.
4.2. Define the structure
You should look to create a clear definition of your 4 day work week system. For instance, what specific days would you require your employees to come in and how long will each work day last? You’ll also need to establish clear guidelines for breaks, overtimes, and related details to ensure compliance and consistency.
4.3. Conduct a trial period
It’s always important to test the practicality of the new system at the start.This typically involves a trial period to assess the practicality and effectiveness of the 4 day work week system. During this period, you should also evaluate employee satisfaction, productivity, and other variables to determine if you’ll fully adopt the system.
4.4. Communicate with employees
Feedback is an essential part of the adoption of any system, including a 4 day work week program. Therefore, you want to ensure you have an open communication channel between you and your employees. First, ensure you’re upfront about the reasons for adopting their system. Then, make sure to get feedback and address any concerts or questions.
4.5. Manage workload and productivity
You always want to stay on top of your employee workload and productivity. Remember, a 4 day system means a shorter week but longer days. So, you want to distribute workloads that compare to the compressed work week. However, you also need to strike a balance and set realistic expectations to ensure your employees do not overwork themselves.
4.6. Foster flexibility
To ensure a smooth transition to a 4 day work week, you should also consider giving your employees some flexibility over their work schedules. For instance, they could have the freedom to choose staggered starts for their work days. Better still, if your operations allow it, employees can pick their preferred non-working day. This can help boost employee satisfaction.
4.7. Consider legal and contractual obligations
Adopting a 4 day work week may mean you have to review employment contracts, labor laws, and several other contractual or legal agreements to ensure full compliance with the law. Also, you may also need to evaluate how your new work schedule impacts your employee benefits, such as ovetimes, leave, and more.
4.8. Evaluate and adapt
You may need to finetune various aspects of your 4 day work week system as time progresses. So, ensure you get feedback from managers and employees to identify challenges or improvement areas. Then, work on these areas to make your system better.
5.1. Should I ask for a 4 day work week?
Deciding whether to ask for a 4 day work week ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, the nature of your work, and your employer's policies. For instance, is it possible to complete your workload in a compressed week? Also, would a 4 day work week be beneficial to your work-life balance?
5.2. How to negotiate a 4 day work week?
First, consider a 4 day work week pros and cons and effectively communicate your expectations. You’ll need to gather relevant information and research your company policies on alternative work arrangements. Then, present your case to your superior while offering solutions to potential roadblocks.