The four-day workweek is an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional five-day workweek. This trend has benefitted from the sudden rise of the work-from-home population due to COVID-19. With roughly 40% of all American workers in either hybrid or fully remote settings, more and more businesses are switching to a shorter workweek.
What are the pros and cons of a four-day workweek? Is this new schedule right for your business? Let’s explore these questions and help you make an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of a Four-Day Workweek
Before we get into the pros and cons, it’s important to know how employees feel about the four-day workweek. According to a Qualtrics survey of more than 1000 full-time workers, 92% of them would favor a four-day workweek at their current jobs. Over 80% also said they would be more loyal to an employer who implemented this schedule.
If your workforce has similar views on the subject, switching to a new schedule should be an easy decision. However, it’s still important to get a full understanding of the four-day workweek’s advantages and disadvantages.
Pro: Work-Life Balance
The main benefit of a four-day workweek is a better work-life balance. It gives people an entire extra day of free time. Some companies choose Fridays, some choose Mondays and some transition between both. Surveys clearly show that work-life balance is the top priority for the younger generations of employees, which means businesses must adopt the same mentality.
Con: Scheduling Conflicts
With one less workday per week, internal scheduling conflicts are naturally going to be more common. Meetings have to be shorter so they don’t take up as much time. Last-minute schedule adjustments are more difficult to pull off. Brainstorming between co-workers might also be less effective if the sessions are short and the entire department isn’t working that day.
Pro: Improved Productivity
Despite the potential scheduling difficulties, a four-day workweek has demonstrated notable improvements in employee productivity. An experiment that included 33 different businesses across a variety of industries had some convincing results — productivity, revenue and employee well-being all showed positive developments.
Workers who have grown accustomed to their new schedules have also reported improvements in their personal lives due to better performance and reduced burnout. When things are going well at work, they tend to go well at home.
Con: Customer Dissatisfaction
A four-day workweek might be great for the average employee, but not for the average customer. If someone contacts your business on a Monday or Friday and nobody is around to provide service, you may lose a valued customer — and potential revenue. This scenario is most likely to happen with older customers who might not be familiar with the four-day workweek.
Pro: Talent Attraction and Retention
Talent retention is a top concern for 78% of surveyed CFOs as they struggle to find new skilled labor. As the aforementioned Qualtrics survey clearly shows, workers are more likely to join and stay with a company that offers a four-day option. Schedule flexibility is extremely attractive to young job seekers for remote and hybrid positions.
Con: Unbalanced Workloads
A four-day workweek can lead to unbalanced workloads for different employees – particularly department managers. They have to spend more time sorting out their subordinates’ schedules, contacting clients and organizing group tasks. On top of these responsibilities, they still have to track employee activity and take the lead on different projects.
Low-ranking employees might also experience unbalanced workloads as their managers try to cram more tasks into four days instead of five. Managers can keep the work distribution balanced by encouraging frequent project collaboration within their departments, but this strategy has limited effectiveness with a shortened workweek.
Switching to a four-day workweek is a great way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and support the local environment. For example, you might see 20% fewer weekly emissions from the daily commute, 20% less energy consumption from light fixtures and 20% less office waste. Shutting down your operations for an extra day might be the perfect solution for your business to meet its sustainability goals.
Con: Not Right For Every Employee
As any experienced business owner knows, a few employees are always going to have scheduling problems. The four-day workweek is no exception. It’s impractical to expect that your entire workforce will seamlessly adapt to the new schedule. Family obligations, second jobs and other responsibilities might interfere with your company’s transition.
In other words, there will likely be a difficult adjustment period if you switch to a four-day workweek. Workers will have to change their weekly routines, which means their families have to change their routines as well. You must be patient and let the change settle before determining its effectiveness.
Four-Day Workweeks Are Here to Stay
Regardless of what you think about four-day workweeks, they are here to stay. Younger generations expect businesses to offer flexible hours and a fair work-life balance. Despite potential scheduling complications, the positive effects on employee productivity and happiness are already well-documented. Discuss the topic with your department leaders and determine whether a change is necessary.
Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, and is especially interested in writing about the future of work and BizTech. Devin’s work has been featured on Entrepreneur, Forbes and Nasdaq.