My Thoughts on the Four Day Work Week

One idea that I have seen picking up steam recently is the idea of the 4-day work week. Is this possible? Would something like that be able to work within the US? Would I want to work 4 days?

Currently right now Rep. Mark Takano from California presented a bill which is backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to back a 32 hour work week.  Now while this might be great for a Salary based workers especially in tech with a lot of remote workers, it will leave out quite a number of hourly, and gig-based workers. Now with a 32 hour work week, research was done in Iceland tracking around 2500 employees and found that worker wellbeing increased and productivity remained the same or improved. This is also followed by some companies in the game industry which is known for mega crunch did the exact opposite as well and saw their workers actually perform better as well.

What this tells me is that it gives more time to the workers mental health and allows for a better work life balance. One of the biggest things I believe in, is the work life balance, being able to disconnect from work and not being contacted by someone after hours. Even the French passed a law saying its illegal for your employer to contact you after hours. However, could something like this work for US workers? Maybe? The US currently isn’t known for taking care of their workers. Also Americans as a whole have been drilled into the idea that being overworked is the norm.

As I have said in the past, not all workers style of working is the same from working at home to working in an office. A long time ago I use to work for a team where we all worked at different times. Some would complete all their work within a few days then disappear for the rest of the sprint. Some would work smaller sessions like 5 hours a day because they couldn’t work 8 hours a day for 5 days a week.  And then I knew some would work 12 hours a day and take the rest of the time off.

With the ever-increasing disruption to working, could there be another disruption in the idea of working only 32 hours a week? With the new bill floating around congress being pushed by the Progressive Caucus and with the backed research that was completed in Iceland could the 40-hour work week become 32 hours? The answer is maybe???

Covid has changed a lot of things of things, in terms of working from home vs working in an office, to working with a lot of cloud technologies vs internal technologies, to even not needing to be in the same city anymore. With these new changes, a new idea is sprouting up, the idea of a 32-hour work week vs the 40+ hour workweek. As I said before most people probably use to work 10 hours a day not 8 because of the fact it will take between 30 minutes to an hour to get to work. Now it could be 12 hours because of how constant we are bombarded with messages after work during our personal time.

In digging into the numbers of the research done in Iceland, it seems that yes productivity increased due to workers have an increase in the work life balance especially since their pay stayed the same. It kind of pertains to advice that was given to me in my years of work, you work and take a break when you need to. You don’t overwork yourself because going past your limit just decreases the value of work you can give. Or as I would like to put it, eventually you will just be grinding metal and not achieving any kind of goal.

I have heard from many people who work over the various tech sectors that they would love a 4 day work week; however, their current job currently takes around 45-60 hours of work a week due to the fact they are at home all the time as well as their companies believe just because they pay you a lot that it will compensate you for that time.  But, I always look at this type of idea as a law of diminishing returns. If I am being paid 100K for 40 hours a week and someone else I know in the same position gets 125K for 55 hours a week, is it really better if the job expects to bleed into your life more with the remote work. Another thing to take note of, is how remote work equals to always having constant communication happening with workers such as chats, emails, and phone calls. These up how much of our lives is spent monitoring a phone vs spending time with people or to ourselves. This could help leverage some of that time back to us. Also, with the ever invasion of our time, this could also be one of the reasons why people have been quitting in mass, the burn out of no me time.

I have always been told that if a business needs to evolve it’s process you do it. If the 4-day work week increases production, happiness then why not do it? I believe with the way things currently are with Covid still ongoing, it might be one of those things to try. Maybe, we should adopt more worker rules along the way if it helps increase productivity and happiness.

Recently, a few companies have started testing out the four day work week, and they are seeing vast improvements in worker productivity. From Blackbird Interactive recently adopting the 4 day work week, to even Kickstarter. With more and more companies moving forward, could this mean that it might become a requirement for workers. If we work better and more productive with 4-day work weeks, does this mean we could charge more for more optimized work? We shall see what the future holds and if this could very well change everything.


Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash