Is a 4-day Work Week in our Future? Charlotte Lockhart

  • Listen on Apple Podcasts
  • Listen on Google Podcasts
  • Listen on Spotify Podcasts
  • Listen on Amazon Podcasts

I am certain you’ve heard that a 4-day work week is gaining traction coming out of the COVID-19 Pandemic with employers. Not only has the Work-from-Home experience taught many employers that office workers can be as productive from anywhere, there is growing evidence that shows workers are more happy and engaged when they have an extra day each week. While the research is not definitive and there are many caveats to the perceived benefits of a 4-day work week (e.g., certain businesses cannot be fully adapted to a shorter work week), the organization, 4 Day Week Global has been undertaking pilots in the UK and the results seem promising.

In this conversation, I talk to Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder of 4 Day Week Global to hear some of the benefits that have been found. As well, what should companies consider before pursuing a shortened work week? Charlotte co-authored “What Leaders Need to Know Before Trying a 4 Day Work Week,” which was used as the basis for this discussion.

Why Should Companies Pursue a 4 Day Work Week Policy?

Charlotte’s company has found several benefits to why companies should pursue a 4 Day Work Week – primarily, to attract and retain the best staff.

Companies should consider a four-day workweek for several reasons, including:

  1. Improved work-life balance: A four-day workweek can allow employees to have an extra day off to pursue personal interests, spend time with family, or simply rest and recharge. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress levels, which can in turn lead to increased productivity and employee retention.
  2. Increased productivity: While some studies have suggested that a four-day workweek can lead to decreased productivity, other studies have found the opposite. By giving employees more time to rest and recharge, they may be able to work more efficiently during their working hours and produce higher quality work.
  3. Cost savings: Companies that operate on a four-day workweek may be able to save on overhead costs such as electricity, heating/cooling, and other utilities. Additionally, a compressed workweek can reduce commuting costs for employees and potentially decrease absenteeism.
  4. Environmental benefits: By reducing the number of workdays, a four-day workweek can potentially reduce the carbon footprint of a company and its employees. Fewer days spent commuting or in the office means less energy use and less environmental impact.
  5. Attract and retain talent: Offering a four-day workweek can be an attractive benefit for potential employees, particularly those who prioritize work-life balance. Additionally, employees who value a four-day workweek may be more likely to stay with a company long-term, leading to increased employee retention and reduced recruitment costs.

What have been some of the results of the 4 Day Work Week Pilots?

In 2022, 61 companies in the UK participated in a pilot of the 4-day work week with over 2,900 staff and the results were interesting. For employees, these included the following:

71% of employees had reduced levels of burnout
39% were less stressed
43% felt an improvement in mental health
54% said they felt a reduction in negative emotions
37% of employees saw improvements in physical health
46% reported a reduction in fatigue
40% saw a reduction in sleep difficulties.

For employers, the benefits included:
⬇ The number of staff leaving fell by 57% over the trial period
⬆ Business performance and productivity both scored an average of of 7.5/10 on two separate scales.

What are some of the drawbacks to a 4 day work week?

While a four-day workweek can offer many benefits, such as improved work-life balance and increased productivity, there are also some potential downsides to consider. Here are a few:

  1. Longer workdays: In order to fit the same amount of work into a shorter workweek, employees may be required to work longer hours each day. This can lead to fatigue and burnout, particularly if the work is physically or mentally demanding.
  2. Reduced availability: Businesses that operate on a traditional five-day workweek may find it challenging to coordinate with clients, vendors, or other businesses that operate on a different schedule. This could potentially limit opportunities for collaboration or make it more difficult to respond to urgent requests.
  3. Reduced earnings: Depending on the structure of the four-day workweek, employees may earn less money than they would working a traditional five-day week. This could be particularly problematic for workers who rely on overtime or bonuses to supplement their income.
  4. Difficulty adapting: Implementing a four-day workweek requires significant changes to workplace culture, policies, and scheduling. Some employees may struggle to adapt to a new way of working, particularly if they have been accustomed to a five-day workweek for many years.
  5. Reduced productivity: While a four-day workweek can lead to increased productivity during working hours, some studies suggest that productivity may decrease overall due to the reduced number of workdays. This could be particularly problematic for businesses that rely heavily on employee output.

Does Productivity Go Down with a 4 Day Work Week?

While some studies have suggested that a four-day workweek can lead to increased productivity, there are also studies that have found the opposite. Here are a few examples:

  1. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that while a four-day workweek can lead to increased employee morale, it can also lead to decreased productivity. The study found that employees who worked a compressed workweek (i.e., a four-day workweek) reported feeling more tired and less productive during their longer workdays.
  2. Another study conducted by the University of Warwick found that while a four-day workweek can lead to increased employee satisfaction, it can also lead to decreased productivity. The study found that employees who worked a four-day workweek were more likely to take longer breaks and engage in non-work-related activities during their workdays.
  3. A study conducted by the University of California, Santa Barbara found that a four-day workweek can lead to reduced productivity if employees do not have enough time to complete their work. The study found that employees who worked a four-day workweek reported feeling more rushed and pressured to complete their work, which led to decreased productivity.

What Should Employers Consider before Deploying a 4 Day Work Week?

Employers should consider several factors before deploying a four-day workweek, including:

  1. Nature of the work: Not all jobs may be suited for a four-day workweek. Employers should consider whether a compressed workweek would be feasible and effective for their specific industry and job requirements.
  2. Employee preferences: Employers should consider the preferences of their employees before implementing a four-day workweek. Some employees may prefer a traditional five-day workweek, while others may welcome the opportunity to work fewer days.
  3. Impact on productivity: Employers should consider whether a compressed workweek would have a positive or negative impact on productivity. While some studies have suggested that a four-day workweek can increase productivity, other studies have found the opposite.
  4. Impact on customer service: Employers should consider the potential impact on customer service if employees are working one less day per week. If customers expect to receive service on a particular day, it may be necessary to adjust schedules or hire additional staff to ensure that customer needs are met.
  5. Legal considerations: Employers should ensure that a four-day workweek complies with all relevant labor laws and regulations. This may include ensuring that employees are still receiving the appropriate amount of breaks, rest periods, and overtime pay, if applicable.
  6. Financial considerations: Employers should consider the financial implications of a four-day workweek, including any potential cost savings or additional expenses. This may include adjusting salaries, benefits, or scheduling to ensure that the company can continue to operate effectively.

Overall, employers should carefully consider all of the potential benefits and drawbacks of a four-day workweek before implementing it. This may involve gathering feedback from employees, consulting with legal and financial advisors, and analyzing the potential impact on productivity and customer service.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed