by Tanvi Rao (’22) | April 8, 2022
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of companies adopted a “four-day work week” that allowed their employees to have a more productive and flexible work experience. The success that came with this new system prompted organizations and lawmakers across the globe to push for the four-day week to become permanent. In early March, California Congressman Mark Takano proposed the 32-Hour Workweek Act, an amendment which aims to reduce a regular work week by eight hours. Internationally, an organization known as 4 Day Week Global launched six-month long pilot programs that test the four-day work week in actual companies.
Now you may be wondering, what exactly are the benefits of the four-day work week? To start, employees would have more time to rest and recharge. According to a 2019 study by the Henley Business School, 70% of employees in companies that implemented the four-day work week were less stressed than they were during a standard work week. In order for a company to perform efficiently, its employees need to feel prepared and well-rested. Standard work weeks encourage employee burnout, as workers are forced to stay productive for five consecutive days. Not only does this expectation take a toll on the employees, but it also decreases the productivity of a company as a whole. The implementation of four-day work weeks promises increased employee retention because individuals have more time off in general. People who would have taken a sick or mental health day off would have to worry less about missing important work time.
The concept of a four-day week is not just limited to the workplace. Even Saint Francis had a four-day week schedule during the 2020-2021 school year. In order to better understand Lancer perspectives on this system, I interviewed a couple of fellow students. Tanya D’Souza (’22) enjoyed the four-day week because it made school “way less stressful,” and it let her use the extra day to “catch up on work, and focus on outside activities or just relaxing.” Veda Srinivasan (’23) had a similar opinion, adding that the altered week “gave her an extra day to relax or do work.” However, she preferred when the off day fell on Wednesday as it prevented her from “putting off work to the weekend.”
When asked about the negatives of the four-day week, Caitlin Chan (’22) said that “there were fewer days of school and teachers would have to cram in lessons, making some classes feel very rushed.” Chan brings up an important point, as one less day in the school week means less time spent on educational material. It is vital that a student is able to learn all of the material included for classes, and four-day weeks may make that difficult.
In the context of the workplace, a four-day work week can improve worker productivity and happiness. Since the success of a company depends on its employees, the new proposed work schedule can greatly benefit organizations across the world. At school, implementing a four-day week may be more tricky and does not seem to reap as many benefits. The four-day work week has its positives and negatives, but it is certainly important for organizations to find work schedules that operate in the best interests of their employees.