Reasons to Adopt a Four Day Work Week

The longtime standard corporate workweek has been from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, 40 hours per week. In theory, this structure is very democratic, offering a great balance between work and life outside of work. During the workweek, 8 hours are for work, 8 hours are for sleep and 8 hours are for everything else. But after factoring in rush-hour traffic combined with long commutes, late meetings and everyday activities such as eating or taking a trip to the gym, many people are left with only an hour or two before bed. By the time Friday hits, many people are exhausted and often the two day weekend is not enough time to recharge before starting the next week.

Why not try something new?

In 2008, Utah implemented an interesting idea in it's public sector: employees began working four days a week for ten hours per day. The overall working time remained the same, but the week became more condensed. Over 80% of employees in Utah favored this change and the state actually recognized increased productivity from workers. In 2011 the state government changed hands and the policy ended, but many companies have begun to copy or at least offer a four day workweek for employees. Here are some reasons why.

It is Less Expensive:

Put simply, it costs money to keep buildings open, powered and heated. Keeping an office open for five days a week means five days of utility related expenses. Closing an office for one of these days is a way to instantly reduce this expense. Consider the U.S. Post Office which planned to cut Saturday mail delivery. This was estimated to save 2 billion dollars per year by simply delivering more mail on other days.

Employees Can Be More Productive:

Having three days out of seven to rest and not have to worry about working would be wonderful for employees. They would have extra time to unwind and enjoy the parts of their life that are not focused on working. When employees know that they will be working for ten hours per day instead of eight, it leaves less time to try to schedule other things and more time to actually focus on working, and because the week passes so quickly, employees can be more driven to be productive and not waste time. This can lead to an overall rise in productivity.

Less Absenteeism:

Sickness can happen any day of the week and the more days a person spends working, the more likely that their sickness will fall on a workday and that they will not report in for work. Also, if employees have an extra day off, it becomes easier for them to schedule things such as doctors appointments for one of their non-working days.

Gas and Commute Savings:

An employee who travels an hour to work each way per day spends ten hours per week driving to and from work. This employee probably also uses substantial gas each week commuting. Cutting one day from the week would reduce commute time and gas costs by 20%. I cannot think of anyone with a long commute who would not appreciate these savings. Additionally, wear and tear on cars would be reduced so maintenance costs would drop while car lifespan would increase.