The Four-Day Workweek Gets Shorter With Practice, Companies Find The longer people worked in new efficient ways, the more their workweek shrank over time, a large-scale study shows


The results of one of the largest experiments on a four-day workweek have provided new evidence supporting the adoption of this schedule. Over the course of 18 months, several companies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Ireland tested the four-day concept by giving their employees a paid day off each week while maintaining the same workload. The goal was to determine if employees could achieve the same level of productivity while working more effectively. After six months, workers reported experiencing less burnout, improved health, and increased job satisfaction. On average, they reduced their work time by about four hours, bringing it down to 34 hours per week. Those who continued the schedule for a full year further reduced their working hours to approximately 33 hours per week while continuing to enjoy better mental and physical health, as well as improved work-life balance.

The idea of a shorter workweek has been discussed for years, but recently it has gained more traction as employers and policymakers consider ways to enhance employee well-being, loyalty, and competitiveness in the job market. Previous studies on four-day weeks mainly focused on short-term effects, whereas the new findings spanned multiple companies over a 12-month period. These findings suggest that both businesses and employees benefit in the long run as workers adapt to shorter workweeks. Most companies did not expect employees to accomplish the same tasks in less time; instead, they reduced meetings and allocated more uninterrupted focus time.

While the conventional five-day workweek will likely remain dominant in most industries, there is growing interest in shorter workweeks, particularly among smaller employers. However, some workers in four-day experiments reported challenges in completing their tasks within the reduced timeframe. Nevertheless, numerous trials are underway in countries like Australia, Brazil, and the UK, where a majority of companies participating in such trials expressed their intention to continue with the four-day week due to lower turnover rates, reduced absenteeism, and maintaining productivity.

One of the companies that took part in the U.S. trial, Search Engine Journal, decided to move to a four-day workweek as a solution to address growing challenges. The company declared a "meeting bankruptcy," eliminating all meetings from their calendar for a month and reconsidering their necessity. Instead of meetings, they utilized shared documents for progress reports and other updates. Within six months, the company observed a decrease in turnover, with productivity remaining intact and clients unaware of the shift to a four-day week. As a result, Search Engine Journal plans to continue operating on a four-day schedule, with employees having Fridays off.

In conclusion, the findings from these experiments highlight the potential benefits of a four-day workweek, including reduced burnout, improved health, higher job satisfaction, and increased work-life balance. While further research is necessary, these results indicate that adopting more efficient work practices can lead to shorter workweeks without compromising productivity. 

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