What To Consider Before Adopting A 4-Day Workweek

What To Consider Before Adopting A 4-Day Workweek

This post is written by Scott Beardsley and Damien Richburg.

There are so many workplace trends that gain attention and quickly fade away. It’s difficult to tell what will gain permanence.

The latest topic that has become popular is the four-day workweek. It’s been successful in Iceland, but would it work in the U.S.?

It sounds nice on the surface, but like anything, there is more than meets the eye.

Here are three ways to view a four-day workweek.

1. Work Schedules Vary Based On The Role And Industry

In the 1980s, construction teams often operated on four-day-a-week schedules, particularly for union employees on the East Coast. It took too much time and energy to set up and tear down the equipment, so it was more efficient to work 10 hours a day for four days a week.

There are other careers besides construction where pushing the same weekly hours into fewer days can work well. These often are jobs where employees have few external dependencies, or the majority of employees are individual contributors.

Problems with this type of work schedule occur if employees must work closely with clients, partners, and outside vendors who work five-day weeks. In this scenario, a non-traditional work schedule can lead to miscommunication and dysfunction. 

Also, condensing the same work into fewer days can create some unintended consequences. There are only so many “productive” working hours in a day. If you shoehorn 40 hours into four days, the quality of the work may suffer.

2. Fewer Work Days Incentivizes Efficiency

The benefit of four-day workweeks is that the structure rewards employees who work faster than others. Why punish these workers by forcing them to work five days a week if they can finish their tasks in a shorter time period?

Additionally, if a company’s goals and expectations don’t change, and employees can work fewer days while maintaining the same output, this incentivizes efficiency.

In Iceland, the four-day workweek trials involved paying more than 2,500 workers the same amount to work 35 to 36 hours per week instead of 40. According to the BBC, researchers found that “productivity remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces.” 

Companies that have a four-day work policy may also have a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting talent. 

And to prevent miscommunication with clients and vendors that work traditional schedules, companies can stagger their four-day workweeks by splitting employees into Monday–Thursday and Tuesday–Friday cohorts.

3. Standard Work Hours Don’t Apply To The Most Ambitious

The strongest argument against four-day work schedules is that people who work in commission-based roles or jobs with considerable upside will work the same hours regardless of the company policy. 

If you are truly passionate about your work, what can keep you away three days a week? People who want to overperform may feel limited by working four days a week. And these are the types of people that companies want to hire and retain.

By implementing and promoting a four-day work policy, are companies at risk of attracting the wrong type of employees and alienating the best talent?

Need help with your hiring plan? Curious about how to improve your employee engagement and retention? Email us at sales@recruitAbility.ai for a free consultation.