Have you ever considered working a 4-day workweek or offering it as an option to your staff? Working only four days a week comes with its advantages for both employees and employers, but only if the program is implemented with care and proper preparation. We’ll cover a long list of 4-day workweek pros and cons to consider before making the 4-day plunge.
4-Day Workweek Schedule Examples
A four-day workweek schedule can take different forms depending on the needs of your business and the type of flexibility your employees are looking for.
In its most basic form, a four-day workweek has an employee working four days of the week instead of five—resulting in a 20% reduction of work hours. Usually, the chosen day falls on the same day of the week each week. Choosing to take Monday or Friday as the added day off provides the benefit of a three-day weekend each week. Another beneficial option is to choose Wednesday as the day off to break up the week with a rest day right in the middle.
Other types of four-day workweeks have employees working the same amount of hours but condensed into four days. For example, working 10 hours a day for four days instead of 8 hours a day for 5 days. However, 4-day 10-hour workweek advantages aren’t as far-reaching and could lead to increased stress depending on the work habits of the employee.
Another scheduling option for establishing a four-day workweek (using the same number of work hours) has employees scheduled 9 hours a day with 1 extra day off every second week. Working one extra hour a day adds up to one full day off every second week, often taken on a Monday or Friday to provide an extended weekend.
In a previous post, we broke down the pros and cons of offering unlimited paid time off. If that’s a program you’re considering, give it a read: 10 Pros and Cons of Unlimited PTO: Is It Really the Best Vacation Policy?
4-Day Workweek Pros and Cons
The aftermath of the pandemic reignited the conversation around a four-day workweek for many businesses and entire countries based on increased demand for flexibility. 4-day workweek countries include Iceland and Belgium, with a number of other European countries running trial programs.
But you don’t need to wait for a government-led four-day workweek bill to adopt this kind of program in your workplace.
Let's discuss the case for the four-day workweek, including the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day workweek you should consider before implementing this option in your workplace.
1. PRO: Provides employees with sought-after flexibility
Flexibility in work is a highly desired benefit to employees, especially for younger workers who look for workplaces that offer increased flexibility.
Companies with four-day workweeks provide an added layer of flexibility to allow people to work how they work best. With an extra day each week, employees are able to build their workweek around their lifestyle, family, and interests beyond work.
2. CON: Employees may become overworked and burnt out
4-day workweek jobs are only a benefit to employees if they can maintain a reasonable workload. Having to complete the same amount of work in four days instead of five can create stress and lead to burnout.
The perk of a shorter workweek is only a benefit if ample attention is paid to balance and workload. To get the most out of a shorter workweek, employers and managers must ensure the amount of work they expect to be accomplished aligns with what an employee can reasonably handle.
3. PRO: Allows for increased work-life balance and other health benefits
Having an extra day off provides an increased work-life balance that leads to additional 4-day workweek health benefits. When employees have adequate balance, productivity actually increases as employees have less stress and are able to prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Employees are able to choose what they do with an extra day off, which may include anything from spending more time with family, finding time for exercise, prioritizing mindfulness, pursuing a hobby, or simply getting some much-needed rest and relaxation.
All of these activities help an employee prioritize their own work-life balance and overall health.
📚 Learn more about The Benefits of Work-Life Balance and How to Maintain it.
4. CON: It can create scheduling issues
A downside to a four-day workweek is that it can create scheduling issues across the team. If one employee has every Friday off, another has every Monday off, and another has every Wednesday off, there are limited days to schedule team meetings or all-hands meetings.
One way to avoid this is to choose specific days of the week the employees who belong to the same team are able to take off work. For example, your four-day program might only be available to employees on either Mondays or Fridays, leaving three workdays available in the middle of the week for meetings and collaboration.
5. PRO: It’s an attractive perk for retaining and attracting talent
Attracting and retaining top talent is an ongoing challenge in most industries. And with the cost of turnover being so high, it makes sense for businesses to invest in the types of workplace perks workers actually want.
The option to have a four-day workweek is an attractive benefit for many people, especially for Millennials and members of Gen Z who prioritize finding flexibility in their work.
📚 Learn more in our guide: Millennials vs. Gen Z — What Different Generations Want From the Workplace.
6. CON: It may result in a pay cut for employees
In order to be able to run the program, four-day workweek jobs may include a pay cut. An employee might receive reduced pay to compensate for the reduced days of work.
For some employees, this may be a worthwhile compromise in order to gain more balance and flexibility, but for some, a reduction in pay is not an option. Keep up with pay rate trends for your industry to prevent your staff from moving on to other higher-paying employers.
7. PRO: Promotes workplace autonomy and mutual trust
Companies with a 4-day workweek prove they trust their staff and value their autonomy. Managers and business owners trust that employees will get their work done, even if they aren’t in the office five or more days a week.
The added flexibility builds workplace autonomy because employees have more time to live their life outside of work. They can choose what to do with the extra time, whether that be pursuing a hobby, new skill, or side business, or using the time for wellness, mindfulness, and rejuvenation.
8. CON: Clients may not feel they are getting adequate attention
Depending on the needs of your industry, your clients/customers may feel like they are not getting adequate attention if too many employees are off on the same day of the traditional workweek.
If you have customers who need continual support and uninterrupted service, ensure your four-day workweek program is designed around those needs. Make sure you continue to have enough available staff on each day of the week by rotating days or fluctuating days off between employees. You might have some staff off on Fridays and others off on Mondays to account for this.
9. PRO: It may save employers money overall
While it may appear on the surface that fewer hours worked will equal lower output and less productivity, in many cases, this isn’t true. Employees are actually more productive when they’re happy, healthy, and fulfilled in both their work and home life.
Employees who receive additional time for balance and rejuvenation will be more tuned in when they are working and less likely to make mistakes on the job. Additionally, happy employees will feel more motivated and fulfilled by their work. When trust is built, effective collaboration and decision making are sure to follow.
Anything a business can do to increase productivity is a financial gain. Plus, if the program is a desired perk, employees will be more likely to stay in your employ over choosing other jobs that don't offer this flexibility. In some cases, they may even stay in a position that pays less to be able to keep the flexibility and balance a four-day workweek provides.
Bottom Line: Are the Benefits of a 4-Day Workweek Worth It?
When balancing the pros and cons of a 4-day workweek, consider the needs of your team and clientele. Remember that in order to gain the benefits of a four-day workweek, each employee’s workload must be balanced so that they feel they are able to take that day off.
Not all of your employees may want a condensed workweek, so ensure you continually check in to balance the needs of each individual team member.
If planned and scheduled with attention to detail, a four-day workweek can provide numerous wellness benefits that increase productivity overall. The flexibility is an attractive perk that can help you retain and attract talent, especially younger generations who put a high value on workplace flexibility.
More Resources From Blue Summit Supplies
We love helping businesses manage efficiency, team dynamics, and wellness. Follow our office supplies blog for the latest trends, scheduling strategies, product comparisons, and more.