Does a Four-Day Work Week Decrease or Increase Productivity?
By Parker Devlin
In the past few years, the idea of the average work week being moved from five days a week to four days a week have made headlines across America. Companies such as
Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand and Microsoft in Japan have tested this schedule for at least one month over the past two years. But, with less hours being worked within a company; does it affect the overall production of a company? According to these companies, it has actually done the opposite.
In March 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a company which helps people draw up and deal with their estate and wills, ran an experiment to see if a four-day-work-week would work for the company. It is worth mentioning that a four-day-work-week does not take away any of the employee’s holidays or time off, and it does not decrease their annual pay. So, the employees just have a three-day weekend, which provides more time to pursue other hobbies or personal needs in their extra day off. According to Perpetual Guardian, instead of the productivity going down after having an extra day off, it actually increased over the month of March by 40%. On top of increased productivity, the company reported that people had an increased satisfaction rate of their job after having more time to care for themselves.
After an obvious success in this experiment, more companies started to join in and test to see if their company could apply to these standards. One of these companies was the technology giant, Microsoft, whose Japanese based manufacturing company tested the four-day-work-week in August of 2019. In the same test, Microsoft reported that their productivity had gone up and people’s over mood towards their job improved. Even at a major company such as Microsoft, who sells billions of dollars’ worth of products every year, can still afford to give their employees the time they need to help care for themselves.
So, what exactly is stopping every company from adapting these schedules? There is little information, but one can guess that not all jobs can have the opportunity such as Microsoft and Perpetual Guardian. Doctors, for example, would still have to work long schedules because their skills are necessary in today’s society. Although it seems like the day could come where people started to work 32-hours a week instead of forty, there are still many areas which need to be researched before the whole world could make this change. But the idea is promising, and who knows, in ten to twenty year – maybe even sooner – more and more companies could adapt to these schedules.
For more information about what four-day work weeks can do – and has done – for companies and employees around the world, check out 4dayweek.com.