Who wouldn’t want a long weekend and more time to spend with their loved ones? Let’s face it, no one is ultra-productive at work for eight hours a day, five days a week anyway.
The four-day workweek is a growing trend that is gaining traction in many companies and countries around the world. People are happier and more productive, and companies are seeing benefits from employees working fewer hours for the same pay.
But it’s not as simple as dropping a day and sticking with your old routine. Transitioning to a four-day week takes planning and habit changes.
In this post, we’ll show you how to make a 4-day week work for you and how you can implement one this month.
The Growing Trend of 4-Day Work Weeks
The idea of a four-day workweek is simple – employees work for four days every week and get an extra day off while earning the same salary and getting all the same benefits.
The trend of the four-day workweek took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. People began working from home and realized the importance of a flexible schedule.
Since most jobs can be done remotely and are much more efficient with the use of team tools and systems, a four-day workweek is doable for many companies.
In fact, there are already many large companies that use the four-day workweek and have seen great results.
Buffer’s CEO, Joel Gascoigne, announced a four-day workweek trial in May 2020. That initial trial was so successful that they extended it to the end of the year and haven’t looked back since.
Microsoft is another company that introduced a four-day workweek trial in 2019 and saw productivity increase by an impressive 40%. They also cut down electricity costs by 25%, which helped with their green goals.
Even though Microsoft didn’t continue the reduced work week after the trial, it shows the positive results it can have on both employees and businesses.
It’s not just businesses looking into the potential benefits of a four-day workweek; there are countries that have run large-scale trials, too.
Between 2015 and 2019, 3,000 workers in Iceland took part in a four-day workweek trial. Research from the trial showed that productivity either remained consistent or improved across industries.
Due to the success of the trial, over 80% of Iceland’s workforce currently operates on a four-day week.
Other countries, including the UK and Spain, have held similarly successful trials. Belgium also followed suit and introduced the right to a 4-day workweek by law back in 2022.
Benefits of a 4-day Work Week
So, is a four-day workweek just the latest trend, or does it come with measurable benefits?
The most important benefit of a four-day workweek is the increase in productivity. Many companies were concerned that output would drop if staff worked for one day less every week.
But let’s face it; there aren’t many people who are doing productive work for eight hours five days a week. Studies on workplace productivity show that the average worker is actually productive for around four hours a day during a standard eight-hour workday.
“Working a four-day week is an easy yet effective way to boost productivity and motivation. Having that longer weekend to look forward to will help you plan your schedule more efficiently and cut time wastage during your working day.” – Justin from The Enemy of Average
Having a four-day workweek has been shown to increase productivity levels compared to a traditional five-day week. This was because when employees have more free time to take care of personal matters, they’re more engaged and focused at work. So, it’s a win-win for employees and business owners.
Another major benefit is the reduction in costs for both employees and business owners. When offices are closed for an extra day every week, running costs see a significant drop.
On the other side, employees pay less to commute and cut expenses like lunch and coffee runs. In a world where the cost of living continues to rise, working from home is a huge perk that many new employees are looking for.
Working for four days a week gives employees more free time to do whatever they want. This boosts overall job satisfaction and employee happiness. This also boosts loyalty to the company, which benefits employers, too.
In the six-month trial conducted in the UK, 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout, 39% were less stressed, and there was a 65% reduction in sick days. These were incredible results that show the impact just an extra day off a week can have on employee wellbeing.
Fewer health issues
Mind, the mental health charity, has shown that one in six people experience mental health problems every week.
According to charity Mind, 1 in 6 of us experience mental health problems in any given week.
Having a longer weekend gives people a chance to unwind, do things they love, and spend time with loved ones. All of that naturally improves well-being and helps improve mental health.
Recruitment and retention
Millennials and Gen Z switch jobs more often than any other previous generation. Job retention is at an all-time low, and employers are looking for ways to retain talent.
Studies have shown that 63% of businesses that offer a four-day workweek found it easier to attract and retain staff. Having a decent work-life balance is essential for the new working generation, so this is a perk that will help retain staff for longer.
Reduced carbon footprint
The 4 Day Week Campaign released a report in 2021 that highlighted the environmental benefits of a four-day workweek. In fact, reducing office time by just one day a week can reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 21.3%.
In a time when climate change is a serious issue and fast steps need to be taken, a four-day workweek could be a simple solution to help lower emissions.
How to Make a 4-Day Week Work For You
It sounds great, but how can you make a four-day week work for you? Here are some pro tips.
Establish Goals and Priorities
The first step toward implementing a four-day workweek is establishing goals and organizing your priorities. It’s not about cramming the same amount of busy work into four days; it’s about excluding low-priority tasks and focusing on the most important items.
If you lead a team, now is the time to eliminate low-priority tasks that take up too much time, such as unnecessary meetings. Around 83% of professionals spend between four and twelve hours every week on meetings – that’s up to a third of the week!
To manage your time effectively, use time-tracking software. This will help you focus on tasks for longer and highlight any current tasks that are taking up too much of your work day.
At the end of every week, evaluate your schedule and to-do list to figure out if you used your time productively. Make a plan to automate, abandon, or outsource any tasks that you can to free up more time the following week.
For a four-day workweek to be successful, your output needs to remain consistent. If your work is negatively impacted, a four-day week can’t be successful.
The easiest way to maximize your productivity is to track your key performance indicators (KPIs). This will show you your progress and ensure you are spending your four days productively.
For example, if you work in sales, are you attracting the same number of clients? Are you completing the same number of sales? Figure out how to best track your output and then organize your days to help reach your targets.
If you find it difficult to reach your targets, it’s time to re-evaluate point one. Are there any major time wasters in your schedule that could be eliminated? Are you structuring your days effectively?
Remember, most people only have four hours of productive time in a workday, so you should be able to match your five-day productivity.
“One of the best ways to maximize your productivity is to implement online tools. This could be a calendar, client booking system, time tracker, or AI writing tool to help reduce busy work and automate tasks for you.” – James from We Tested
Communicate with Your Team and Boss Differently
Now is the time to change the way you communicate with your team and boss. If you constantly stop work to check emails, reply to Slack notifications instantly, or email while you’re off work, it’s time to stop.
If you can, get your team together and choose a block once or twice a day to check and respond to emails and messages. This will help you stay productive throughout the workday and remove a lot of the distractions from the workweek.
If you’re working from home, communication with your boss and team is crucial. But don’t allow this communication to distract you from your schedule or interrupt your work.
If you have products or services that are time-sensitive, preparation for a four-day workweek may take more time.
“If you’ve got products that need to be delivered to clients quickly, communication with your team is key. Now that you have three full days away from the office, you’ll need to plan your schedule to make sure there isn’t a noticeable delay in delivery during your transition to a four-day week.” – Ryan from Pad PCB
Create Boundaries and Manage Expectations
In the process of transitioning, it’s important to let all of your old and new clients know that your working hours are changing. Set up an out-of-office auto-reply with a standard message letting clients know when you’ll be back and able to respond to their inquiries.
If you work B2B, some of your clients or contacts will still work Fridays, so it’s essential to create boundaries and manage expectations from the beginning.
It’s tough telling clients or team members ‘no’, but be mindful of taking on too much work now you’re working less each week. It’s better to set realistic expectations of timelines and deliver quality work than to rush projects to get more done in less time.
Take Care of Yourself
When you first switch to a four-day week, schedule in things to do on the extra day you have off. This will help you create the habit of ignoring work emails and make sure you actually enjoy your extra time away.
It’s easy to fall into patterns of catching up on emails or completing quick tasks on Fridays, but this should be your time to take care of yourself.
When you’re planning out your new shorter work week, take some time to plan your Fridays and make sure you spend your time doing exactly what you want to do – whether that’s a day out with the family or a much-needed day of uninterrupted rest.
“Many parents who take a break from work use their time to help their kids with schoolwork. You could help with some exercises in any topics they’re struggling with or download practice papers to help them get ready for exams.” – Faisal from Example Paper Plus
Enjoy Your 4-Day Workweek!
It takes some time to successfully transition to a four-day week, especially if you’ve worked in an office setting for some time. But you’ll be surprised by how productive you can be when you have the incentive of a long weekend to look forward to.
Research the best tools to help you maximize your time and plan fun activities to make the most of your new time off. You’ll have a four-day week working for you in no time.