Know what to expect from a 4-day work week before going knee-deep. We dive into the pluses, and the minuses, and give you some tips as to how you can make it work for your place of business.
Table of contents
Over the past few years, employees in many sectors have finally come to the understanding that there’s more to life than just work and are increasingly demanding a better work-life balance.
The pandemic showed millions of office workers that working from home is not only feasible but in many cases actually leads to greater productivity. And while a work-from-home arrangement will remain a nice dream for any employee not working in an office setting, the demand for better treatment is still there.
With this pressure, finding employees and keeping them for the long run is forcing business owners to look at an alternative to the classic 9-5 arrangement: the 4-day work week.
However, how will this affect productivity? What are the 4-day work week pros and cons? Does it align with every industry or only some?
These are the questions you want to know the answers to before promising your employees a fun 3-day weekend. Read on to know what you should consider before going all in or all out on a shorter work week.
What Is a 4-Day Work Week?
A 4-day work week is what it sounds like: it’s one less day at work and one extra day put towards the weekend.
Although a 4-day work week is pretty straightforward, it’s still important to understand its purpose and how it can be executed.
There are two ways in which you can structure a 4-day work week:
Compressed 4-Day Work Week (also known as a 4-10 schedule)
- 40 hours divided into a 4-day period (a typical 8-hour work day will turn into 10-hour work days in the timeframe of 4 days).
Reduced 4-Day Work Week
- 32 hours divided into a 4-day work period (the typical 8-hour work day will stay at 8 hours, in the timeframe of 4 days).
Although these are two different approaches to a 4-day work week, one is not better than the other. To pick between the two pay attention to how your business runs, the lifestyle of your employees, and the ways in which you determine employee wages.
4-Day Work Week Pros and Cons
Advantages of a 4-day Work Week
Many assume that fewer hours or days at work will automatically decrease productivity levels. However, a study by Autonomy, found it to be quite the opposite. It showed that when fewer hours were put into work, employees noted they were happier while productivity either stayed the same or increased.
Employee happiness is a major contributor to productivity levels and for that reason, it is a valuable commodity to have. Business owners who’ve experienced employee burnout firsthand can speak truth to the serious repercussions it can have on a company’s success.
That being said, with a refreshed body, mind, and soul, employees can come to work ready to tackle their tasks.
Running a business is never cheap, so if you are looking to cut expenses, this is your golden ticket. Operating one less day is one less day to pay for electricity, utilities, supplies, and any other overhead costs. This is easy money to save that also makes a substantial difference to your finances.
Another way to save on costs is through tax relief. The Paris Agreement is a treaty that mitigates climate change and incentivizes businesses to lessen their carbon footprint. With a 4-day work week, employees will commute to work one less day during the week. You will be rewarded with tax deductions while simultaneously helping the environment; it’s a win-win.
Happier Employees & Fewer Absences
When productivity and numbers are the priority, employee happiness is the first to take the hit. Although the happiness of every individual in your company may not seem like your responsibility, the reality is that ignoring it will result in absences and leave you understaffed.
Employees who are rundown, mentally unstable, and unenthusiastic tend to come to work sluggishly or take sick leaves. A longer weekend easily mends this problem. Giving employees an additional day to relax and work on themselves, helps them stay happy, healthy, and ready to bring their best energy to work.
Better Recruitment & Higher Retention
In this fast-paced world where technology follows us home, time off isn’t always a given. If a company offers 3-day weekends, this is already a competitive advantage you can have over other companies. Offering this will reel in more candidates and allow you to be more selective in your hiring choices.
Providing work-life balance also creates higher retention rates. It’s much more desirable to stay at a company that offers the free time you can spend on hobbies, wellness, and family. It even promotes equality amongst genders; women can balance being a mother and a full-time employees.
Learn more about Connecteam’s smart scheduler so that you can get the best out of a 4-day work week.
Disadvantages of a 4-Day Work Week
Possible Overtime Costs
Although a compressed 4-day work week sounds like a compromise between you and your employees, it comes with a flaw.
Those who work on hourly wages and are switched over to a compressed work week (a 4-10 schedule) can corner you into paying overtime costs. Depending on your state laws, employees will be considered exempt or non-exempt. For non-exempt workers, you could find yourself paying 8 hours worth of overtime by the end of each week– just for that one employee.
Unless you know your employees can fulfill their duties in 4 days, a 4-day work week will pan out as an expense more than anything else.
A 4-day work week doesn’t leave much buffer room for scheduling slip-ups when you have overtime to worry about and one less work day to depend on. The restaurant biz is a great example of where 4-day work weeks can make this scheduling overly complicated.
Let’s say a manager of a restaurant decides they can’t stay profitable unless they stay open for the five full days of the working week. Although the restaurant could schedule their staff so that one group of employees take off Mondays and another set of employees take off Fridays, any last-minute change of plans will leave managers without a Plan B. Overtime starts to come into question, and finding an employee who is skilled enough to shift swap, becomes increasingly difficult.
When the public depends on your industry’s service, such as emergency care professionals, 4-day work weeks can become tricky. Scheduling every staff member that provides 24/7 service just 4 out of the 7 days can leave many uncovered shifts; it’s either that or spending more money on new hires. Not having enough employees staffed per shift can result in overworked employees and/or poor customer service. So although the 4-day work week is meant to provide flexibility, it can only go so far as to who that pertains to.
Frustrations (for you & your employees)
Employees who have a 3-day weekend to enjoy should logically have less stress. But what if the 4 days that employees are given aren’t sufficient enough to get the day’s tasks done? This can be a new source of stress. For employees, frustration can stem from this unrealistic expectation.
Employees who cram work into this timeframe may rush their work to the point that quality is lost. On your end, the frustration can come from unpolished work.
How Can Every Business Make a 4-Day Work Week Possible?
No matter how many 4-day work week pros and cons we list, this is still uncharted territory for most. For this reason, many managers alike are hesitant to act on such a change.
With a scheduling software system, you can keep up with scheduling and even prevent conflicts. It doesn’t matter what type of industry you are in or whether you’re leaning towards a 4-10 schedule, a software solution can shield your business from overtime costs, allow for predictive scheduling, and help you sort through time-consuming tasks.
A scheduling software solution like that is Connecteam. As an all-in-one solution for employee management and smart scheduling, Connecteam provides:
- Overtime alerts: calculates overtime so that you can be aware before it’s too late.
- Shift swaps: employees can change shifts only under your final approval.
- Quick scheduling: drag & drop shifts, set shift repeats, tailor schedules, or edit templates.
- Shift details: includes location, dates & time, and special notes or files to avoid time-consuming back and forth.
- Task management: keeps staff focused on their priorities to get it done in 4-days time.
- Live updates: see task completion in real-time, even when you’re on the go.
- Absence tracker: keeps a balance of employee absences (sick leave, vacation, PTO).
… and so much more that would make the transition from a 5-day week to a 4-day week, easy and possible!
The Bottom Line on the Pros & Cons of a 4-Day Work Week
A 4-Day work week may sound bazaar to you now, but just think how unbelievably weird working from home in your pajamas sounded up until the coronavirus pandemic hit. The flexibility that was needed in order to keep your business alive during the pandemic, turned out to be a fringe benefit for workers worldwide. Work-life balance is in high demand, and one way to support that demand is through a 4-day work week instead of the traditional 5-day work week.
With pros and cons to shed light on the possible side effects of a 4-day week, you can make the right decision for your business. Whether you choose to attempt a 4-day work through a 4-10 schedule or a reduced work week, you can use a software solution such as Connecteam. It will help your business get the best of what a 4-day work week can offer both you and your employees!