Four-Day Work Week: Yes or No?

By Wiona Teo

Permanent long weekends or a day off mid-week, sounds great doesn’t it? You could spend more quality time with your family, run errands, or even learn to cook something new!

The concept of a four-day work week has become increasingly popular among top companies. Organizations such as Microsoft Japan, Shake Shack and Unilever New Zealand are taking the lead in trialing this new work model, and it does appear to have a track record of success. While implementing the four-day work week, Microsoft Japan saw a tremendous productivity increase by 40%, while electricity costs simultaneously fell by 23%.

The debate over four-day work week has been a trending discussion in our ever-changing and evolving work environment. The below pros and cons would illustrate how it would be to implement a four-day work week in your organization.


blog_pros and cons

🟢 Pros

1. Reduced costs

From a financial point of view, a four-day work week certainly helps in reducing organization's overhead and other miscellaneous costs. Research has shown that employees not only take fewer sick leaves but also become more productive during this period.

Fewer work days also mean less frequent janitorial services and lesser use of office supplies and equipment, such as air-conditioning and printers. If you factor in the pantry perks, the savings increase even further.


2. Helps in talent attraction & retention

The idea of a shortened working week is no doubt appealing to many. Especially to Gen Z and Millennials, who cited shorter week options as a driver in their decision about which jobs they apply for. 

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, more emphasis has been placed onto work life balance where people are certain about how they want to spend their personal time. More job flexibility would definitely bring across a unique selling proposition for both new hires and existing talents.


3. Increased productivity levels

A study has shown that organizations that utilize a four-day work week experienced higher productivity and increased employee satisfaction. 

With employees spending less time at work, they feel happier and more engaged, leading them to focus greatly on their job when in the workplace.


🔴 Cons

1. Not a one-size-fits-all work model

Unfortunately, the four-day work week model does not suit every business sector. Professions such as nurses, teachers and customer service support would require a full week’s presence, which would make a shortened work week unfeasible.

Likewise for teams that work closely with external stakeholders, clients and vendors. They are unlikely to benefit from a shortened work week.


2. Longer working hours

In today’s modern workplace culture, many find themselves working till they drop. Especially for remote workers where there is a tendency to overwork, as there are no clear boundaries between home and work. 

By implementing a four-day work week, it is possible that employees will end up putting in the same hours anyway and in turn, leading up to mental stress and burnout.


3. Delayed timeline

While above evidence suggests that a shortened work week can increase productivity, it might not necessarily seem that way to your employees, as they are essentially being asked to meet the same targets in less time.

Without a proper transition, we could be facing either delays in timelines or the quality of work being compromised.


Final Thoughts

Four-day work week is certainly a viable option for people to have meaningful careers with better work-life balance. However, it is still debatable if the reduced number of work days would improve employee experience; e.g.: disengaged employees would still be disengaged, regardless of a five-day or four-day work week.

Businesses will have to keep an open mind and focus on employee experience and engagement, in order to maintain productivity and boost morale. 

Start measuring and tracking your employee experience with EngageRocket’s solutions. Talk to us today.


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Tags: Leadership, Employee Experience