Is Thursday the New Friday? 3 advantages and disadvantages of reducing working hours

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Organizations around the world have started experimenting with a four-day work week in an effort to create more balance for workers. A Gallup report found that the average number of hours an employee works is 47 hours per week. With just two days off work to rest, employees should recover quickly, stay engaged and at peak productivity. This type of work is not sustainable in the long term. For this reason, 42% of managers instead consider a four-day work week as a way to increase productivity.

In California, Representative Mark Takano introduced the Thirty-Two Hour Work Week Act (HR 4728), aimed at reducing the standard work week from 40 hours to 32 hours per week. While it does not mandate a 32-hour work week for all employees, those who work more than 32 hours per week would be entitled to overtime pay. While California is often touted as a progressive utopia, other states are struggling to keep pace, forcing them to cut the traditional 40-hour workweek into four days.

Whether a state adopts a 32-hour workweek or a 40-hour compressed workweek, there are some drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • Less pay (employers will not want or be able to pay 40 hours of pay for only 32 hours worked)
  • Reduced hours can increase pressure to meet deadlines, which negatively impacts mental health and stress
  • Exhaust yourself after working 10 hours a day to complete all work
  • Reduced hours don’t necessarily mean reduced workload
  • Realistic only for flexible organizations
  • The customer / customer experience and the level of satisfaction would be impacted
  • Not all employees want to work 10 hours a day or 4 days a week

Here are three pros and cons of moving to a four-day work week.

How it attracts the best talent

The Great Resignation has shown that employees want a better work-life balance and an employer who values ​​their health, needs and happiness. However, not all workers are in favor of a four-day work week. Many would prefer to continue with the traditional 9-5 because they appreciate the social element of their job, resistance to change, or find the 10-hour workday too stressful.

Studies have shown that four-day work weeks have various benefits, such as:

  • Improved mental health
  • Ability to run errands and do things they love
  • More time with your friends, family and pets
  • More intentional communication
  • Reduced turnover and absenteeism
  • Increased employee happiness and job satisfaction
  • Increase in productivity and performance
  • More time to devote to personal and professional development

Before implementation, companies should assess whether this makes sense for their workplace and whether there is a way for employees to sign up or opt out. Emily Cooper, founder of Oliver Wicks, said: “When a company decides to make an important decision like this, it helps to have a trial period in place and have time to discuss. configuration with employees. It pays to hear their opinions and grievances, because they are the ones who will benefit from the work schedule, once it begins.

What it means for an employee’s work-life balance

You can give employees more perks and perks, but what they really want is something that can’t be given a price – more time in their day. Work-life balance has become a top priority for workers around the world. Having a healthy work-life balance means something different for each individual. For example, women with children and family responsibilities are more likely to opt for flexibility so that they can take time off to care for their children and family members. other workers may prefer the ability to work remotely.

In theory, the four-day workweek is attractive to some because of a long weekend. However, 10-hour workdays can have the same impact on an employee’s mental health as traditional 9-to-5 work. In addition, employees look to leadership and management to see what their job looks like. working style. If leadership and management don’t model a healthy work-life balance by logging out completely on Fridays, employees are also less likely to unplug.

Priya Gupta, finance and lifestyle blogger at ashandpri.com, pointed out that “the biggest mistake a business can make is to make Friday optional and label it high priority work days.” She explained, “In today’s fast paced work environment, everything is a high priority. As a result, most employees end up working on Fridays because they fear management will put them down and this will affect their chances of being considered for a promotion. For this reason, it is crucial that the culture supports a four-day work week and it is not a false promise to hire talent. Finally, leadership and management will need to be more intentional in meetings so as not to waste people time and cultivate a culture where saying “no” is acceptable and asynchronous communication is paramount.

How it affects productivity and performance

When employees need to be more intentional in their workday, they can engage in deeper, more focused work. John McGhee, Owner of Webconsuls, said: “When workers don’t have to worry as much about personal tasks and have an extra day off, it helps them focus at work and be more productive. Being more productive is rewarding and helps improve overall happiness and mental health. In addition, it allows employees to refresh and renew their energy, which allows them to invest and become more involved in the company in which they work.

Alina Clark, recommended, “When planning a 4 day work week, the only thing companies need to be wary of is reducing the work week across the board. Ideally, you should let employees choose whether they want to work four squeezed days or work the normal five days without any squeezing. Having a flexible work plan that allows employees to swing between the two has really helped us prevent burnout.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to redefining working hours and maximizing flexibility. The pandemic has shown that what worked before will not be what works in the future. As such, companies will need to think through what is best for their employees by speaking to them directly. For example, Microsoft recently implemented half-day Fridays where workers use the rest of the day for professional development while Kickstarter announced that it has decided to continue its four-day work weeks. Some companies have found success with flexible staggered hours called 5/2/4/3 where they work five days with two days off one week and four days with three days off the next.


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