Jobs/Employment

Do 4-day workweeks work? Companies share their impact 1 year later

Dozens of companies who adopted a four-day workweek in 2022 share how it has affected the business and their employees one year later.

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A four-day workweek may sound like a far-off dreamland, but a study out of the U.K. is proving it can be a long-term reality — and a benefit — for both businesses and their employees.

In 2022, 61 companies chose to move their employees to four-day weeks with no reduction in pay as part of the six-month study. One year later, 89% have continued the practice, and 51% have made it permanent for their businesses, according to the Autonomy research group.

But while employees get longer weekends, what's in it for their employers? Apparently, it's a better business, as 100% of managers and CEOs said the workweek shift still has a positive impact on their organization one year later. This comes as a result of happier workers, lower turnover rates and improved efficiency, the report says.

Plus, many staffers whose schedules were changed said those improvements in their physical and mental health have continued a year later, too. This was measured in terms of an improved work-life balance, a reduction in feelings of burnout and stress, better general life satisfaction and higher job satisfaction compared to before the study began. 

"The key point is that the strong findings at six months are not due to novelty or short-term impacts. These effects are real and long-lasting," said Juliet Schor, a Boston College professor whose research team led the quantitative work for the follow-up report.

More businesses, even schools, moving to 4-day workweeks
More businesses, even schools, moving to 4-day workweeks

More businesses, even schools, moving to 4-day workweeks

In this post-pandemic world, a growing number of companies are finding a four-day week works better. But is it better for everyone?

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The idea of a four-day workweek has gained global traction in recent years, specifically after the pandemic. Spain, Belgium, South Africa, Ireland and Germany are among the dozens of countries who are either test-running the practice or are requiring it as an option for employees. And recent polling from Autonomy's 4-Day Week Campaign in the U.K. found 58% of public experts expect this will be the standard way to work by 2030.

Stateside, large companies like Amazon and Microsoft have been toying with the strategy, while lawmakers in California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have introduced legislation addressing shorter workweeks. Meanwhile, teachers and students in Missouri, Texas and Ohio might be the next leaders of the four-day movement, as many have reported feeling less stressed and more enthusiastic about the work as a result.

But as with the U.K. study, not all of these regions or the businesses located in them will be able to operate under a one-size-fits-all approach to a shorter workweek. For example, some of the companies involved in the study used a universal day off for the whole organization, while others staggered a day to ensure five-day coverage. The study did find that using one of these methods instead of having different teams or employees choose for themselves resulted in higher and longer-lasting success rates. 

Whichever method an organization chooses, though, the researchers recommend businesses go forward with it clearly and confidently, increasing the likelihood that the new policy will thrive for the long run.

"In this study, it has been clear the four-day week is not just a flash in the pan: Companies around the U.K. have successfully been 'making it stick,'" the study said. "As a result, we look forward to more and more organizations bringing the benefits of shorter working hours to their workplaces."