Pros and Cons of the Four-day Work Week

Constant three-day weekends sound like bliss, right? Not so fast. One business trend is a four-day work week that consists of four 10-hour workdays (for 40 total work hours a week) and three full days off. However, other companies have experimented with 30-hour weeks and 32-hour weeks over four days.

An Indeed survey found that in smaller Canadian businesses that employed under 100 office workers, 46% said they were willing to try a four-day work week. So this flexible schedule could soon be coming to a neighbouring business near you.

Who’s doing this in the real world?

Canadian companies are already trying four-day work weeks. Coconut Software, a tech company based in Saskatoon, introduced a 32-hour work week spread over four days in June 2021, and saw improved morale, productivity and work-life balance as a result. CEO Katherine Regnier says the perk is also helping with recruitment at the company. “We believe if you take care of your employees, they, in turn, can take better care of themselves, and, in turn, they will take better care of the customer,” she told Canadian Business.

It’s also being used by municipal governments in Guysborough, NS, along with Zorra, ON. Meanwhile, YLaw, a Vancouver law firm, shifted to working nine-hour days and saw profits rise. Staff take Wednesdays off, then return to answer client calls on Thursday mornings. “As far as the client experience goes, there's really no interruption,” Leena Yousefi told Narcity Vancouver .

Pros of a four-day week

--Productivity may rise. For example, a New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian, reported a 20% productivity increase after switching to a four-day work week.

--Workers can take care of their medical and other appointments on their days off.

-- Recruitment and retention may be easier when you offer an unusual perk like a flexible work schedule.

--Reduced stress and better work-life balance was the result of a large-scale Icelandic trial that cut the workweek from 40 hours to 35 or 36 hours.

--Commuting fewer days of the week saves time for employees and has environmental benefits.

Cons of a four-day week

--For jobs paid by the hour, employers should check if they will need to pay overtime if staff work 10 hours per day.

--Negative health impacts may occur with longer work days, including an increased risk of stroke.

--Ensuring you have customer and client coverage can require scheduling employees over different work days, or else customers may wait days for a call back.

--It may be difficult for employees to find a daycare open for a 10-hour day to meet childcare needs.

--This may not work for all industries such as farming, customer service and restaurants.

While the four-day work week won’t be a solution for all businesses, it’s another example of how some employees are demanding a better balance between their professional and home lives. In a competitive job market, employers might want to explore ways to support flexible work arrangements.


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