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What Do You Mean a 4 day Work Week?!?!

The 4 day work week movement is not about taking a whole day off, but instead looking at the relationship between organizations’ reduction of typical hours and performance. This might mean going from 40 hours a week to something like 35 hours. This might seem radical, especially to some Americans, but studies suggest there are huge amounts of merit to this reduction. Let’s find out why.

The Studies

Several studies have been conducted surrounding the 4-day work week and the results might surprise you. Most of these studies were conducted between the years of 2015 and 2019. The first country to give this a shot was unsurprisingly a very progressive country, Iceland. The trials involved 2,500 workers more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population. They reduced employee’s hours from 40 a week to 35 or 36 hours without a reduction in pay. The researchers concluded that the transformation of positive effects of a short work week are beneficial for employees and businesses.

A second study conducted at Microsoft Japan also yielded positive results when they tried out the 4-day work week back in 2019. They found a 40% jump in productivity level and saw a fall in cost with 23.1% less electricity used and 58.7% fewer pages printed over the period. These results were significantly better than expected. A 40% increase in productivity while making employees happier is something any business should be interested in.

How People in The Studies Felt

Below are some quotes and remarks surrounding the study on the participnats behavior. These excerpts provide great insight to the pitfalls of the overworked employee and ways that the shorter work week helped them be more productive.

  • “This [reduction in hours] shows increased respect for the individual. That we are not just machines that just work … all day. Then sleep and get back to work. [But that] we are persons with desires and private lives, families and hobbies,” said one participant.
  • To be able to work less while providing the same level of service and productivity, workers and managers alike made strategic and creative changes to their working patterns and dynamics, constantly rethinking how tasks were completed and using working hours in a more efficient way.
  • One participant said his co-workers shortened meetings and, in some instances, avoided them altogether by sending emails or exchanging information electronically.
  • Other participants said they removed longer coffee breaks to stay focused on their work, with the promise of a shorter workweek motivating them to complete their tasks more efficiently, the study found.

Who knew that when worker’s were treated better that they might actually provide more value to the company!

Countries and Businesses React

Results as dramatic as this have created a massive stir not just in businesses but in entire countries. Iceland who initially conducted the study at masse, now have 86% of their entire work force working reduced workweeks with similar success to the study conducted! Seeing that these findings can scale is huge for its application in other areas of the world.

Countries like Spain are sponsoring widespread tests to see if this will also improve productivity in their own countries. Their government will distribute 50 million euros among 200 companies that volunteer to test a four-day, 32-hour workweek for 3,000 to 6,000 employees in Spain for up to three years.

America may seem like one of the last places to try and implement a change like this, or at least unlikely to accept it happening. It also seems like the 4 day workweek could be coming to America soon California Congressman Mark Takano introduced legislation to the idea of trying a 4 day workweek. With the trials showing overwhelming success he believes that this is something that needs to be experimented so workers many experience the best working conditions possible. If trials do end up showing quality results, you may begin to see this change taking place right around you.

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