Four-day workweeks are a hot topic in the workplace. Can employees get more done in less time?

Hustle culture is not as popular as it once was. Today, professionals are more motivated to work smarter, not harder. For some, that means working fewer hours than before.  

Four-day workweeks are a hot topic in the workplace. Can employees get more done in less time? While you may think not, studies are showing they can. In fact, employee engagement and productivity increased by nearly 40% with a four-day workweek. Additionally, employees expressed that their work-life and personal lives improved significantly.  

Learn more about the benefits of implementing a four-day workweek. 

Increased productivity  

Believe it or not, shorter workweeks lead to increased productivity. Studies show employees are less distracted when working a four-day workweek. Why? They have more hours dedicated to their personal lives.

How often do you find your mind wandering at work to something you need to do outside of work? With extra free time, professionals can run their errands and set up necessary appointments without having the anxiety of taking time off.  

Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart founded the 4 Day Week Global in 2019 to reshape how people think about work by moving the conversation away from hours and to productivity and output. They proposed the 100-80-100™ principle, where employees receive 100% pay for 80% of time worked with 100% productivity targets achieved.  

With employees working within a 32-hour workweek, they can stay more focused on tasks. In a five-day workweek, employees struggle to remain focused on Fridays.

On average, only 16.7% of tasks get completed on Fridays. If anything, the last day of the workweek should be one of the most productive, wrapping tasks up before the weekend. Think about it, drifting off on a Friday at work is like a marathon runner walking the last final five miles. It isn’t beneficial.  

Some may argue that professionals will react to Thursdays the same way they do Fridays with a four-day workweek. But, the opposite was found true. Employees showed to be consistent with task completion Monday through Thursday. Additionally, there were 65% fewer sick and personal days. Resignations dropped by more than half, and companies’ revenues increased slightly by 1.4% on average.

Enhances work-life balance 

On average, 70% of employees experience employee burnout to some extent. While it was once the norm to make sacrifices in our personal lives to advance our professional careers, that’s no longer the case. The pandemic influenced a lot of working professionals to prioritize their health – including emotional, physical, and mental health – above their jobs.  

As we evolve, doesn’t it only make sense that the workplace does too? With a four-day workweek, employees get an extra full day to put towards their personal needs.

Simon Ursell, a managing director at Tyler Grange, expresses how this particularly benefits parents, “Having a parent or career available on a Friday gives those of our employees with preschool children a major financial boost — and also enriches the lives of the children by being able to enjoy more time with mom or dad.”  

A four-day workweek isn’t just a compressed schedule but reduced hours intending to be more productive, happier, and more focused. Studies show that employees who work 32 hours a week have an improved work-life balance. 71% feel less burnt out, and 54% feel a reduction in negative emotions.  

Is the answer to employee burnout as simple as shortening the workweek? Ultimately, employees have an extra day to pursue hobbies, spend time with family, or run errands. Employees are happier and less stressed overall.

Reduced carbon footprint 

When environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives are top of mind, a reduced carbon footprint greatly benefits the four-day workweek. Studies proved that introducing a 32-hour workweek can shrink carbon footprint by nearly 22%. Additionally, it decreases ecological footprint and carbon dioxide emissions. 

The four-day workweek contributes to reversing climate change. Not only does it reduce commuting – by an average of half an hour daily – but also energy usage. One trial of the four-day workweek also found that employees spent more time on the weekends engaging in low-carbon emitting activities, such as hiking or stay-at-home hobbies.  

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, agreed, “Employees become used to a different lifestyle that’s a lower consumption lifestyle because they have more time.” 

Companies can’t deny the data; fewer working hours result in lower emissions due to less commuting, energy use, and newly adapted lifestyle habits.

Boosts creativity  

We’ve all been there, where we have been working for too long, and our brain – and all the ideas that come with it – turns off. There’s a reason we tell creators to step away from their desks when they hit a creative block, which is an overwhelming feeling of being stuck in the creative process without the ability to move forward and make any new progress.  

Time away from work leads to being more effective at work. Putting more time into our personal lives gives our brains a break so creativity doesn’t become forced. Creativity and innovation appear most with time off, not more time at work.  

Studies that tested a four-day workweek discovered it does spur greater creativity. It helps workers set boundaries and have an improved work-life balance. Employees reported feeling less overwhelmed, which unlocked a new level of creativity and strategic thinking they wouldn’t have had otherwise.  

Disconnecting from work does wonders for employees’ energy and mindset. Making Thursday your team’s new Friday will provide them a creative boost for when they open their laptops Monday morning.

4-day workweek results in happier employees  

While the four-day workweek may seem like a fantasy to most workers, it will soon become a reality for many. Working fewer days benefits employees in both their professional and personal lives.

With an extra day off, they can schedule their important appointments or use more time for relaxation without the stress of putting in paid time off (PTO). Work-life balance improves overall. Thus, employees are more productive, creative, and happier. Not to mention, less time in the office results in a reduced carbon footprint.  

It isn’t about the number of hours worked but how employees spend the hours worked. Working longer does not equal better output. Instead, offer your employees to work smarter, not harder. Whether companies are ready for it or not, the four-day workweek is the future of work. 

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Amanda is a Florida-based writer with a decade of experience in digital content creation for businesses. Prior to joining Eptura, she worked in thought leadership roles with groups including management consultancy Huron Consulting and industry research and insights firm Gartner. In her current role, she covers the latest worktech and workplace experience trends. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism.