According to research, after switching to a 4-day work week, employees’ productivity rose by 20%, there was a 27% reduction in work-related stress, and a 45% increase in the quality of employees’ work-life balance ensued.

As you can see, a 4-day week benefits not just the company but also the employees themselves. As a result, governments are recommending and pushing the 4-day workweek model. Companies are coming around from the traditional 5-day week model, as well.

But just like anything else, the 4-day work week isn’t perfect. It has its pros and cons. You can decide for yourself if it suits your working style!

What Is a 4-Day Work Week?

Since the mid-20th century, the standard workweek for virtually every company in the US has been five-day, 40-hour per week. It’s all thanks to a law signed by FDR, known as the Fair Labor Standard Acts, which mandated a 40-hour workweek and 2-day weekends throughout the country.

You’d be surprised to learn that this was actually a marked improvement over working time prior to the 20th century. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for people to come to work six days a week, having only Sunday off. A manufacturing plant employee in 1890 could work over 100 hours a week!

And now, in the 21st century, there’s potential for change in people’s working schedule once again.

The idea of a 4-day work week is catching up globally. With this model, ideally, you should work around 32 hours a week only.

This model is being applied fairly flexibly by companies that are trialing it. Some allow you to choose your own day off, while others designate other days in the week as off days, commonly Mondays and Wednesdays.

Some 4-day work week schedule examples are:

  • Monday to Thursday, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.
  • All days except on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays

The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Work Week

Just like most working models, there are pros and cons to the 4-day workweek schedule. Before you commit to a job that offers it, you should be aware of them all.

To give you a heads up, here’s a table with all of the pros and cons.

Pros Cons
  • Better labor productivity
  • Great for unlocking creativity
  • Better overall health
  • Less expensive for employee and employer
  • Improved work-life balance
  • More stressful working days due to companies expecting teams to be more productive
  • The wrong implementation may cause collaboration issues 
  • Some jobs can’t use the 4-day workweek model
  • Employers may dislike it

The Pros

There are many benefits associated with the 4-day workweek that both employees and employers can reap. Here are the four big ones.

Better Productivity

The greatest benefit of the 4-day workweek is that it improves productivity. Stanford University found a close link between working hours and productivity. People with relaxed working schedules are more productive than those who are overworked.

Just look to Japan as a great example of the positive impact of the 4-day workweek on productivity!

Japan is a country that’s notorious for its grueling working culture. But despite the long working hours, Japan has ranked last in labor productivity among the G7 nations for 50 straight years!

Source: Nippon

In 2019, Microsoft experimented with the 4-day workweek model in its Japan office. Productivity jumped by as much as 40%.

You’ll Be More Creative

Businesses thrive on the creativity of their employees. But the traditional working week is terrible at promoting innovation and creativity.

People who work long hours are more stressed, which triggers the fear system in the brain. The combination of fear and stress can crush every creative and innovative idea before it can form.

With a shorter workweek, employees will feel less stressed out and anxious. This sets the condition for revolutionary ideas to form and prosper.

Better Health

Long working hours are linked to poorer health. Overworked people are at a higher risk of contracting:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Employees working long hours are also more likely to make bad lifestyle choices, like getting too little sleep, not eating enough, or not exercising often.

All of these problems will ultimately affect labor productivity. So, it’s not surprising that when working hours are cut back, people begin to lead healthier lives, including better physical and mental health.

Less Expensive

For businesses and employees, spending long hours at the office means spending more money. They must invest in office supplies, commuting, food take-outs, and more. Employees also use more electricity and take more breaks. And as we have already mentioned, long hours make personnel more likely to get sick and incur costly hospital bills.

A shorter 4/10 work schedule can cut back all these expenses.

One survey found that businesses that switched to the 4-day workweek model managed to save over 20% of their operating costs.

Better Work-Life Balance

The traditional 5-day workweek makes it very difficult to maintain a good work-life balance. What little time off you have is usually spent recovering from the long working hours. There’s little time to have fun, socialize, or pursue personal hobbies.

That’s why burnouts are becoming more common now than ever.

Source: McKinsey

Burnout employees suffer from very low performance. They’re more likely to make mistakes, miss deadlines, and take more sick days.

By cutting back on working hours, people have more room to breathe and more time to do things they like outside of the office.

The Cons

The 4-day workweek isn’t perfect. There are many caveats attached. Keep the following in mind before you take up a job that offers this working model.

More Stressful Working Days

Even though the workweek is compressed, most companies will still expect you to perform the regular volume of day to day work. That means you will have to work much harder during work hours to make up for the time off.

Depending on the job, this can even be more stressful than the traditional working schedule.

So, it may not be the right option if you think your mental well-being will suffer from a 4-day workweek instead of improving.

Some Jobs Can’t Use the 4-Day Workweek Model

While some jobs can easily switch to a 4-day workweek model, certain jobs and industries will have a harder time transitioning. Certain jobs won’t be able to adopt this model at all.

An example is the healthcare industry. Doctors and nurses have to be on call all the time. Having more days off, while great for them, could result in worse quality of care for patients and clog up hospital resources.

Scheduling Conflicts

Internal scheduling can be a big problem in companies that offer a 4-day workweek.

For example, a planned meeting can be easily organized during or before the workweek begins. But impromptu and emergency meetings can be very difficult to set up.

Brainstorming sessions can also receive fewer inputs and be less effective since some people may not come to work on that day.

Some People May Dislike It

Most people like having to spend less time at the office. But some may prefer the standard five-day workweek structure to take their time or simply because they’re used to the old way of doing things.

¨So, they may put in more hours than the rest, resulting in more overtime pay (more expense for the company.), and potentially collaboration issues with those who prefer a 4-day week.

Is the 4-Day Workweek Right for You?

On the surface, a 4-day workweek is perfect for employees. They get more time to do their own things outside the office during the happy 3 day weekend. The time off can do wonders for their physical and mental health. When they come back to the office, they will feel more energized and more ready to tackle challenges at work.

But this model is not without its cons.

It doesn’t work for everyone, and not every job and industry can adopt a 4-day workweek model. And if you’re hoping that a 4-day workweek can make a toxic working environment or an unfulfilling job better, it won’t.

So, think before you take the plunge and apply for a position that offers a 4-day workweek. Make sure you can meet all the demands that come with the job, the extra stress, and the irregular working schedule before committing. Most importantly, ask yourself if the 4-day workweek is what you truly want.

Some people prefer the traditional working schedule better, which is totally okay if that works for you.

Ready to Find Your New 4-Day Week Job?

If you’re sure that the 4-day workweek model is for you, it’s time to start searching for a new job. A remote job that offers a 4-day work week schedule with no reduction in pay may sound too good to be true and difficult to find, but it’s easier than you’d think! For example, there are now many fully remote jobs offering a 4 day work week at no reduction in salary. Good luck!