Pin Me

Benefits of a 4-Day Work Week

written by: Heidi Wiesenfelder•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/17/2010

Switching to a 4-day work week can represent a big change from a traditional work schedule. There can be some downsides, but you will also experience many benefits of a 4-day work week.

  • slide 1 of 2

    About 4-Day Work Weeks

    Some companies are switching employees from the traditional work week of five 8-hour days to a compressed week where employees work four 10-hour days, known as a 4x10 schedule. In many cases the motivation is a desire to reduce energy and utility costs by keeping a facility open one less day a week. This can save the company money as well as positively impacting the environment.

    In 2008, Utah was the first state to require four-day work weeks for almost all state employees, with offices closing on Fridays. According to an article in Time magazine, the state saw numerous benefits from the switch to a 4-day work week:

    • Energy use was reduced by 13%
    • Employees saved an estimated $6 million in gasoline costs
    • The state's greenhouse-gas emissions were reduced by more than 12,000 metric tons annually
    • Employees took fewer sick days, and 82% wanted to keep the new schedule

    Clearly the 4-day work week can bring benefits to businesses and the planet. But what are the benefits to individual employees?

  • slide 2 of 2

    Benefits of a 4-Day Work Week

    While some people may bristle at the idea of working 10-hour days, the benefits of a 4-day work week are numerous. Here are just a sample of the benefits you might reap if you or your company were to switch to a compressed work week.

    Less time commuting: Imagine what you could do with that extra time you currently spending getting to and from work one day of the week. If you're fortunate enough to live within walking distance from your office this may not have much impact for you, but for employees commuting from 30 minutes to a couple hours each way, this would mean a substantial increase in available time.

    Less commuting expense: For employees who drive more than a few minutes each way to work, the fuel savings from working 20% fewer days each year would really add up. Even individuals who ride the bus or carpool would see some savings in commuting costs with a reduction in days worked per week.

    Improved momentum at work: While this may not hold true for all individuals, some employees find it takes significant mental energy to get started with each work day and "get into a groove." Once they get going into their routine or start digging into a project they become quite productive and the time goes by quickly, but it can take some effort each day to get into gear. With a 4-day work week these people may experience increased productivity, as they only lose that "getting into gear" time four times a week instead of five. Also projects may proceed more smoothly when communication takes place within a more compressed timeframe.

    3-day weekends: This is perhaps the largest benefit of all for individuals working a compressed work week. Many of the benefits of a 4-day work week derive solely from having three days off from work in a row each week instead of just two. For example:

    • With a 4-day work week, you have at least one weekday available for conducting personal business that is difficult to accomplish on the weekend. This can include banking, taking pets to the vet, taking yourself or your children to the doctor, or meeting with professionals such as accountants, lawyers, or tax preparers.
    • You are more likely to really relax and decompress from work stress with a three-day weekend, leaving you more refreshed and capable of facing a new work week. You have at least one day where you are neither recovering from work the day before nor preparing for work the next day, which can make it mentally easier to get work out of your mind.
    • Most people would be more productive in three full weekend days than in two weekend days plus a couple hours each weekday. This means it can be much easier to get home improvement projects done, take classes or pursue a degree, start your own business, or accomplish other things outside of work.
    • You can spend one of the three days on personal business and still have plenty of time for friends and family, recreation, relaxation, and catching up on sleep.
    • It may be easier to schedule time with friends and family when you have three days available outside of work instead of just two. This is particularly true when friends and family have work schedules that are nontraditional or that differ substantially from yours.

    If you are considering switching to a compressed schedule, consider these benefits of a 4-day work week. Especially if you are not being given a choice, and are being switched automatically by your employer, look through this list of benefits and use it to counter any negativity you may have about making the change.

    Reference: Time Magazine