Four-day workweeks may be in your future. Is that good or bad?


The five-day, 40-hour workweek is not written in stone, as those of us who work more than 40 hours and on weekends can attest. But it is, for lack of a better term, the “standard” workweek in modern times, and certainly an improvement over the 12 hours a day, six days a week that workers were expected to put in before labor reforms in the beginning of the 20th century.

However, just because one workweek standard is better than another doesn’t mean workweeks can’t improve. Many people long have advocated for an even shorter workweek of four days, and they point to benefits such as increased productivity, lower employee turnover, greater energy and creativity, and more opportunities for employees to be with their families.

Flexible work situations are increasingly common as technology enables employees to work remotely and at any time, so it’s no surprise that enterprises — particularly smaller organizations — are offering compressed workweeks. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 14% of smaller organizations offer a 4-day workweek to all or most of their workers, nearly three times the 5% of larger enterprises that offer it to the majority of their employees.

“More than nine out of 10 (91%) organizations that offered a compressed workweek said this option has had some degree of success (61% said ‘very successful’ and 30% said ‘somewhat successful’),” SHRM said in a report.

But some people on the four-day workweek train haven’t had such a smooth ride. Several company founders tell the Washington Post‘s Jena McGregor that a compressed weekly work schedule “isn’t nirvana.” Maybe so, but three of the four founders interviewed had generally positive experiences with a four-day workweek, including two who cut weekly full-time hours to 32. However, one of those said his business simply couldn’t keep up with competitors on a 32-hour work schedule once more venture-backed competitors entered the field.

There probably are people reading this who have a four-day workweek (for full-time positions), and I’d be interested in hearing their experiences. Are they more focused and productive? Do they get more family time? Do they lose “flow”? Are they better at reducing distractions? Let us know in the comments section below.

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