As work and work life continue to evolve, many companies are looking for ways to increase productivity while boosting employees’ work-life balance. According to science, a four-day workweek could be the solution.
The science and other stuff to know
The concept of four-day workweeks is straightforward: workers would put in 32 hours of work instead of the usual 40, four days a week, for the same compensation and perks. One study conducted by SimpleTexting has found that, in a survey of more than 1,000 American workers, nine out of ten people believe the five-day workweek is outdated. And multiple studies have proved that having employees work four days instead of five boosts productivity.
In 2019, Microsoft Japan tested reducing the workweek by one day, which led to a 40 percent boost in productivity. New Zealand-based company, Perpetual Guardian, also conducted a trial study of a four-day workweek. Not only did employees improve productivity levels, but they also showed improvements in job satisfaction, teamwork, work-life balance, and company loyalty.
Researchers in Iceland have also found that a four-day workweek improved workers’ well-being and productivity. For four years, researchers tracked 2,500 employees who reduced their workweek to four days a week. They discovered that “worker well-being dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance.” At the same time, employee productivity remained the same or improved.
Science suggests having employees in the office less often can boost productivity and even profits. How is this possible? According to studies, just because employees are working, it doesn’t mean they’re working efficiently. A four-day workweek creates more of a sense of urgency to get tasks done. Moreover, if employees are motivated by the idea of a four-day workweek, it motivates them to prove through action that it is possible.
Additionally, a four-day week can lead to happier and more committed employees. Workers are less likely to be stressed or take sick leave as they have plenty of time to rest and recover. As a result, they return to work feeling ready to take on new challenges.
The four-day workweek is becoming increasingly popular. According to a survey by Digital, of 1,300 business owners in the U.S., 27 percent have already switched to a four-day workweek, and 35 percent are thinking about it. Some of the companies experimenting with four-day workweeks include Kickstarter, Bolt, and Panasonic. Unilever also announced last November that it would be piloting such a schedule in New Zealand.