When you know a three-day weekend is just around the corner, do you try hard to tie up loose ends during the week so you can enjoy it? I know I do. When you get back to work on a Tuesday, doesn’t the rest of the week seem to fly by? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a four-day workweek every week? You can!
When faced with a short workweek I know I am more productive during business hours. Here are some other benefits:
- People have more time to spend with their families.
- Employees save money on commuting to and from work.
- The business saves money on energy costs.
- Studies show that employees with a four-day workweek are more productive and happier overall.
But there are drawbacks, too. Working 10 hours a day isn’t for everyone.
When thinking about creating a four-day workweek, people tend to think about how great it will be to have more time away from the office rather than how increasing their workday by two hours may affect them and their families. Less time in the day outside of work means less time for running errands on your workdays.
Another drawback is the fact that just because you only work four days a week, it doesn’t mean your customers don’t need you on your “off” day. Some companies can’t shut their doors for one day a week because of the nature of their business. If there are enough employees to stagger the 5th day off, this may work for you—some employees get Monday off and some Friday.
TGIT: Thank God It’s Thursday
The state of Utah instituted a four-day workweek in 2008 for most state employees, and researchers found that 79% of employees reported a positive experience with the four days a week/10 hours a day routine and 63% of the employees reported increased productivity. The same employees also reported lower levels of work-family conflict and higher levels of job satisfaction.
Utah also found that by implementing a four-day workweek their employees saved $6 million in gasoline costs and cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 12,000 metric tons a year.
Companies large and small across the country are looking for ways to save money. Pensions, as we’ve seen in the news, are a hot button topic. Many companies are not offering the same things to their employees that they used to—namely 401(k)s and health insurance. A four-day workweek, a plus to many, might just be the thing that keeps disgruntled workers happy and in their jobs. A shorter week could also be a big perk when hiring new employees. And a healthy work life balance is becoming more and more important to people.
Predicting the Future
Pretty soon those Generation X-ers (born from 1965–1978) everyone has been complaining about for decades are going to be at the age where they are the decision makers in business. And Generation Y (born from 1979–2000) are looking to do things differently than their parents’ generation. Big changes are in store—and one of those changes could possibly be an altered workweek.
A lot of people don’t even need to show up at the office anymore to do their work, and are already working an altered workweek — albeit virtually. Heck, working 40 hours might very well become passé over the next 10 years! We won’t know until we get there.
But before you implement a four-day workweek you need to do some homework. Find out what your goals are. Are they to keep employees happy? Save money on energy costs? Cut down on traveling expenses? Know what you want to achieve and institute a way to measure the results to see if it’s working or not.
You also want to talk to your employees. The people who will have the hardest time with a four-day workweek are parents who have children in daycare. Give them some warning and find out how they will deal with the schedule change.
Fortunately a four-day workweek isn’t a new idea—so there are lots of people out there that can give you their two cents. But summer is right around the corner — a great time to try out the four-day workweek…if you ask me!
(Image courtesy of Joe Lanman under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)
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