As our relationship with work evolves, the traditional Monday-to-Friday grind is slowly giving way to a revolutionary concept: The four day work week.
Imagine having an extra day each week to pursue your passions, catch up with friends, or simply relax and recharge.
As the concept gains momentum, more employees are calling for reduced working hours as a gateway to a better work-life balance. But what exactly does a four day work week entail, and how do you go about getting a four day work week job?
We answer all these questions and more in this ultimate guide. So let’s dive straight in!
- What is a four day work week?
- Pros and cons of a four day work week
- How to find a four day work week job
- Key takeaways
1. What is a four day work week?
In essence, the four day work week is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of the typical five days (or 40 hours), employees work for only four days out of the week (or 32 hours).
Typically, these reduced hours aren’t reflected in employees’ salaries. In other words, they still get paid for a full week of work—although this varies depending on the company.
Four day work weeks aren’t a new concept. In fact, employees have been pushing for shorter work weeks for some time.
Let’s look at the timeline at a glance.
- 20th century: Unions and workers rights groups campaigned for reduced work hours and improved work conditions—sparking a growing interest in the four day work week.
- 2008: The Utah state government implemented a four-day work week for most state employees, aiming to reduce energy consumption and cut costs. In addition to reducing costs, the experiment proved successful in other ways too. Namely, higher job satisfaction and better retention among employees.
- 2018: Perpetual Guardian, a financial services firm based in New Zealand, conducted a trial allowing employees to work four days while being paid for five. Once again, the results showed significant improvements in work-life balance, job satisfaction, and productivity.
- 2015-2023: Several countries and companies worldwide implemented variations of the four day work week with positive results. Icelandic workers who participated in a four-day workweek trial saw a reported 71% increase in their wellbeing, while A UK-based trial found that 77% of participants reported a better work-life balance.
With the pandemic seeing a widespread move to remote work, traditional notions of work hours and office-based routines were disrupted—and the focus shifted to work-life balance.
Some companies reduced their hours as a way to save on costs during the pandemic, but decided to stick to a shorter work week after seeing an increase in wellbeing and employee productivity.
Today, a growing number of tech companies are opting for a four day work week—particularly in the tech industry.
So why is the four day work week so popular? That brings us to the next section…
2. Pros and cons of a four day work week
Having an additional day off opens the door to a whole host of benefits for both companies and employees. But, like any work arrangement, the four day work week comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Let’s take a closer look.
Pros of the four day work week
Absenteeism is a major issue in many workplaces. Enter: The four day work week. With a longer weekend and increased flexibility, employees are more likely to schedule personal appointments, run errands, or take care of family matters on their extra day off rather than during working hours.
The additional day also means more time to rest and recharge, leading to better mental and physical health—and fewer sick days. During their four day work week trial, the city of Gothenburg in Sweden saw a 22% decrease in absenteeism.
Improved work-life balance
One of the most compelling drivers behind the four day work week is better work-life balance. During the pandemic, conversations about burnout came to the forefront—and remote work became a lifeline for many who craved more opportunities to properly “switch off” from work.
The four day work week takes it a step further with one extra day to relax, spend time with friends and family, run errands, and pursue passions. This additional time off means employees can come back to work feeling re-charged and focused, which leads to increased overall job satisfaction. Win-win!
While it might seem counterintuitive, a shorter workweek can boost productivity. Employees tend to be more focused, efficient, and motivated with fewer days to get the work done.
This compressed schedule also encourages prioritization, better time management, and eliminating non-essential activities (i.e., meeting overload). As a result, productivity can soar— leading to higher-quality work in the long run.
Cons of the four day work week
While everyone’s experience of the four day work week is different, some professionals end up trying to squeeze the same workload into fewer days.
Sometimes, this means they have longer workdays to compensate for the reduced weekly hours. This can be a challenge for those who prefer to work little and often with regular breaks—and they might struggle with maintaining sustained productivity and concentration for extended hours.
Again, the terms and conditions of a four day work week vary widely depending on the company—but in some cases, a reduced working week means reduced pay.
For many employees who rely on a full-time income, the enticing benefits of a three-day weekend might not be worth losing out on that additional money.
Client and customer expectations
Companies with high client or customer interaction might struggle to meet expectations when transitioning to a four day work week.
For example, customers might expect the same level of availability as a five day work week—and the reduced hours might make it difficult for employees to quickly address time-sensitive issues. This could impact overall responsiveness, and, in turn, customer satisfaction.
3. How to find a four day work week job
With so many benefits, it’s no surprise that a growing number of professionals across industries are seeking opportunities that allow for an extra day off work.
The good news? It’s never been easier to find a four day work week job. Let’s explore some of the options available.
- Four day work week jobs: The four day work week isn’t limited to certain professionals or industries. However, some job titles and career paths lend themselves well to four-day work weeks due to their flexibility and emphasis on remote work—including tech roles, like UX/UI design, digital marketing, and web development. Tech companies, known for embracing remote work, are also more likely to provide opportunities for a four-day work week for these roles.
- Four day work week job boards: While there aren’t many job boards specific to landing four day work week positions, popular flexible job boards like FlexJobs, Remote.co, and We Work Remotely are great for discovering flexible job opportunities at forward-thinking, culture-first companies that are more likely to offer four day work weeks. It’s also worth keeping an eye on four day work week announcements across LinkedIn and using that as a reference point for where to apply.
- Four day work week companies: Several tech companies have already embraced four day work weeks, with more following suit. Online coding school Treehouse have implemented a four-day work week to promote work-life balance and employee wellbeing. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, also offer the option for a four-day work week to support their remote workforce. You can also let recruiters know you’re looking for opportunities at companies that provide four day work weeks so they can match you up with the right company.
It’s also important to note that while a company might not explicitly offer four day work weeks, they might be open to flexible working arrangements on an individual basis.
If you’re dead-set on a four day work week, and the company really wants you, they might let you reduce or compress your hours anyway.
To learn more, check out our guide to the best tech companies to work for in 2023.
4. Key takeaways
In the pursuit of a more harmonious work-life balance, the four-day work week has emerged as an enticing alternative to the traditional grind—and it’s clear from the many trials and experiments that the benefits are boundless for both employees and employers.
From increased productivity to less burnout (plus a reduction in costs), it’s no wonder more businesses are embracing this trend. Three-day weekend, here we come!
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