Six benefits of a 4-day workweek

27 nov. 2023


Six benefits of a 4-day workweek

The 4-day workweek is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the world of work – and with good reason. While it is a relatively new concept, studies show that pilot programs have been a resounding success for employees and organizations that have said goodbye to the five-day week. Reducing the workweek has myriad benefits – from mental health to environmental impacts – making professionals question the necessity of working five days a week. So, what are some of the top reasons for moving to a 4-day workweek?

1. Increased productivity

One of the main concerns about reducing hours is the potential impact on productivity. It may seem logical that working fewer hours would lead to a fall in productivity, but the opposite has been shown to be true. After switching to the four-day model, 64% of employees in one study conducted by Henley Business School reported an increase in productivity, and 75% said they were happier. These results aren’t seen only in employee sentiment. After implementing a shorter workweek for the month of August in 2019, Microsoft’s division in Japan found that productivity was up 40% on the previous year.

2. Higher employee satisfaction

Along with the quantifiable benefits of increased productivity, reducing working hours also leads to higher employee satisfaction. The same Microsoft trial that reported increased productivity also noted that the satisfaction rate increased to 94%. Overworking is linked to burnout and extreme fatigue, which can affect concentration and productivity.

3. Better retention rates

With higher employee satisfaction comes higher retention rates. High employee turnover rates can have a significant impact on morale as well as the bottom line. Higher retention rates save the company money as it can cost more than 50% of a worker’s annual salary to replace them. High staff turnover rates also decrease productivity and can cause a domino effect, leading to even more employees leaving. For workers who participated in one trial, 32% said that they were less likely to leave their jobs than before. By helping employees improve their work-life balance, prioritize their mental health, and combat burnout, companies can expect an increase in loyalty, resulting in higher retention rates, further cutting costs and boosting productivity.

4. Smaller carbon footprint

Along with the personal benefits workers enjoy, less time online and in the office can also help combat the climate crisis. Cutting down on working hours can reduce carbon footprints for workers and organizations alike by reducing energy consumed and greenhouse gasses emitted while commuting to the office, powering facilities and more. In one trial, switching to the 4-day workweek led to a 21% reduction in the number of miles traveled by car, with all the associated environmental benefits. Another report from 2012 indicates that a 10% decrease in working hours is associated with an 8.6% reduction in carbon footprint.

Emissions from transportation are a leading factor in climate change. So, even a small reduction in the time employees spend in vehicles getting to work could have a significant impact on the environment if a shorter week became standard, as 76% of Americans commute to work by car. In the US, transportation alone accounts for 28% of carbon emissions, higher than the global average of 20%.

5. Reduced Expenses

While there is no solid argument against a shorter workweek, and 92% of American employees said they would welcome the change. However, whether or not it becomes the new norm will likely come down to finances. Luckily, there are ways that switching to a shorter week can save companies money. One way the 4-day workweek can cut costs is in the hiring process. Higher employee retention means fewer resources spent on recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Spending less on perks, such as reimbursement of commuting costs, in-office snacks or meal expenses, will also help companies.

One major saving could come with closing the office for an extra day each week. Organizations can save on utilities, such as heating and light, as well as staff costs, leading to potential extra savings.

6. More free time

Aside from data points about productivity and employee retention, there is one glaringly simple benefit to the 4-day workweek: employees have more time to themselves. In a world that is evolving at breakneck speed, with constant innovations in technology that allow us to produce more than ever before and the rise of AI that can accomplish time-consuming tasks with the push of a button, it can feel almost impossible to keep up with the new standards we set for ourselves. At some point, we will have to stop moving the goalposts in terms of what it means to be productive at work and take advantage of the fact that we no longer need to be in an office five days a week.

The 4-day workweek would allow Americans more time to pursue their passions, start a side hustle, spend time with family, reconnect with nature, be creative and anything else we can imagine. The future of the workweek is destined to change, one way or another.

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