The Four-Day Workweek: A Potential Win-Win-Win

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the concept of a four-day workweek as a way to boost employee well-being and productivity while also providing cost savings for companies. Now, researchers at Boston College, think tank Autonomy, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities have completed the largest research study to put that question to the test, with 61 companies and 2,900 employees in the United Kingdom participating in a pilot program. The results were promising and have reignited the discussion around adopting a four-day workweek.

The research study conducted by Boston College, think tank Autonomy, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities found that a four-day workweek had a positive impact on employee well-being and productivity. More than a third of employees reported feeling less stressed, 48% were more satisfied with work, 46% experienced less fatigue, 40% slept better, and 71% felt less workplace burnout. These results suggest a potential win-win for both employees and companies.

History of the Four-Day Workweek

While the concept of a four-day workweek may seem like a new, radical idea, some companies have been experimenting with shortened workweeks for years. Dell, for example, implemented a four-day workweek in the early 2000s with the goal of reducing costs and improving work-life balance for employees. Later on, more companies started adopting similar policies before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted our models around work.

Implementing a Four-Day Workweek

Despite the potential benefits, there are still some obstacles to implementing a four-day workweek. One of the main challenges is defining productivity for different roles in a company. Bosses need to be better able to define productivity metrics for each role, and then determine which roles are suitable for working four days a week. Another obstacle is overcoming the “fear mindset” among employers that has prevented the widespread adoption of a four-day workweek in the past.

Furthermore, providing health insurance to employees is a significant consideration. According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees must work at least 30 hours per week to qualify for employer-sponsored health insurance. However, the study found that 32 hours would be the minimum required to provide health insurance to employees. This means that companies need to make sure they can still provide these crucial benefits to workers, even when reducing their work hours to four days a week.

Implementing a four-day workweek can have a significant impact on company culture. It sends a message that bosses trust employees and intend to treat them like adults, which can lead to higher employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Creating a culture that values work-life balance and employee well-being can help attract and retain top talent while also increasing productivity and overall performance.

Jessica Kriegel is the Chief Scientist of Workplace Culture for Culture Partners. She leads research and strategy initiatives to identify the best practices for driving results through an effective workplace culture. Jessica is an advocate of a four-day workweek as a way to improve employee well-being and productivity, and her research has demonstrated that companies can achieve positive outcomes by adopting a four-day workweek and prioritizing work-life balance culture.

The idea of a four-day workweek may have once seemed like a pipe dream, but a recent study conducted by Boston College, think tank Autonomy, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities has reignited the conversation. The potential benefits of a four-day workweek for employees and companies are significant, from improving well-being to increasing productivity and cost savings. However, to make it work, companies need to define productivity metrics per role, overcome the “fear mindset,” ensure health benefits, and build a positive workplace culture that values work-life balance. If companies can achieve these goals, the four-day workweek may be a potential win-win situation that can benefit workers, employers, and society as a whole.

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