NEWS & MEDIA
Productivity and the 4 Day Work Week
By BEN DROGUE, Marketing Assistant
Is a happy worker truly a productive worker? In recent years, a staggering number of employees across the nation have reported feeling high levels of “burnout” in the workplace, regardless of industry and experience. “Work-Life Balance” is something of a buzz phrase nowadays, but there is a real discussion to be had about the opportunity to lead a life not wrapped up in your occupation.
As external stressors continue to build for the average citizen, many are finding their schedules stretched too thin. Not only are workers stressed about cramming all non-work activities into the upcoming weekend, but they also haven’t even recovered from cramming every task into the previous weekend. There is very little time for genuine rest in the modern work schedule.
While some see workplace burnout as a part of modern life that we must deal with, “perseverance” isn’t the only solution, especially if we look to the past for inspiration to change.
Prior to 1908, an average work schedule consisted of six full days of work with only one day for rest. It took years of heavy campaigning to start a nationwide transition to the five days on, two days off schedule that we still use today.
A new-age response to burnout has started gaining traction. After over a century of the five consecutive day work week, companies have started experimenting with four-day on, three-day off schedules.
Some are using 10-hour days, which still results in a 40-hour work week. Others are exploring more interesting options, such as keeping the current eight-hour daily schedule and dropping a day, resulting in 32-hour weeks.
One of the largest studies of the four-day, eight-hour schedule followed 3,000 workers at 60 different companies over the course of six months. Employees were paid the same amount per week as they were on their traditional eight-hour-a-day, five-day schedule.
Employees had more time to be with family and friends, explore hobbies, and take care of chores and errands, while still having the opportunity for adequate rest of the body and mind.
Burnout among the 3,000 workers plummeted, and productivity skyrocketed. According to 4 Day Week Global, as a result of employees working 20% fewer hours per week, “overall company revenue during the test period was 35% higher, on average, than during the same period a year earlier.”
While far more testing needs to be done to truly push this idea into the mainstream, initial results are positive. Companies may be one schedule change away from happier, well-rested employees that are able to hit new peak levels of productivity. What working style has more value? Quantity or Quality?