Over the past couple of years, the four-day workweek has gained popularity among the more progressive companies around the globe. Preliminary studies have shown that the arrangement can have several benefits for both a company and its employees.
On top of allowing for more work-life balance, a four-day workweek also contributes to a dramatic increase in workplace productivity. Back in 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand estate planning firm, ran an eight-week trial and saw amazing results—not only did productivity spike by 20 percent among its employees, but common issues like burnout and work-related stress were also minimized in that short period of time.
Soon after the trial, the company decided to make the four-day workweek a permanent policy. Andrew Barnes, the CEO of Perpetual Guardian, and Charlotte Lockhart, the company's former sales and marketing director, also encouraged other companies to run their own tests to see if a four-day workweek would be a good fit for them.
It all comes down to weekly hours
Lockhart believes that people should not confuse a four-day workweek for a shorter week. The key to its success does not come from working one day less, but rather, cutting total weekly hours to a reasonable amount without affecting pay. According to various studies conducted in Iceland, reducing weekly hours from 40 to just 35 can already do wonders for productivity, whether those hours are compressed into four days (which would result in a three-day weekend) or spread out over five.
That said, time is money, so if a company does decide to reduce hours, it must be prepared to pay the additional costs. For example, in Gothenburg Sweden, the working hours for care workers were reduced to six hours per day, which led to city officials hiring 17 more staff members to cover the extra hours. Such resulted in a 22 percent increase in payroll at a total cost of $738,000.
Of course, not every company can function on a four-day workweek. It really boils down to the scope of work and a company's values. Some jobs require constant attention, while others are better managed with a more spread-out schedule. Still, if the circumstances are right and the company has the means to give a four-day workweek a shot, what's the harm in trying?