As U.S. businesses rethink their approach to remote work following the pandemic, there’s also growing talk of transitioning to four-day workweeks.
Most workers no doubt think this is an excellent idea. But does it make sense for employers?
The latest research says, in many cases, yes.
British companies have been participating in a pilot program to assess the impact of four-day workweeks on business’ performance and earnings.
Most of the participating firms say that so far they’ve seen no decline in productivity by giving employees more humane hours.
And in some cases, productivity has even improved.
A new report outlines the results of the program halfway into the six-month trial. Nearly all of the 41 companies surveyed said they’re “likely” or “extremely likely” to continue the four-day workweeks beyond the end of the trial in November.
“Essentially, they are laying the foundation for the future of work by putting a four-day week into practice, across every size of business and nearly every sector, and telling us exactly what they are finding as they go,” said Joe O’Connor, one of the organizers of the experiment.
This isn’t a new idea. In 1956, then-Vice President Richard Nixon said he could see four-day workweeks taking hold in the “not too distant future.”
But since then, much of the evidence for shorter weeks has been anecdotal. The British study is providing hard data about productivity and corporate results.
And that data is encouraging.
“The four-day week trial so far has been extremely successful for us,” said Claire Daniels, CEO of a company called Trio Media.
“Productivity has remained high, with an increase in wellness for the team, along with our business performing 44% better financially.”
Switching to four-day workweeks would clearly be a challenge for many American businesses that are accustomed to doing things a certain way.
But the pandemic rewrote many of the workplace rules.
Unless data show otherwise, four-day weeks seem both beneficial and desired (at least by employees).
Maybe it’s time a similarly large-scale experiment was done here.