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4-day workweek, 5 days of pay?

Iceland tested a 4-day workweek. Employees were productive — and happier, researchers say.

Source: The Washington Post
By Paulina Villegas  and Hannah Knowles

4-day workweekSeveral large-scale trials of a 4-day workweek in Iceland were an “overwhelming success,” with many workers shifting to shorter hours without affecting their productivity, and in some cases improving it, in what researchers called “groundbreaking evidence for the efficacy of working time reduction.”

Some of the trials’ key findings showed that a shorter week translated into increased well-being of employees among a range of indicators, from stress and burnout to health and work-life balance.

The trials ultimately involved 2,500 workers, more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population, who moved from working 40 hours a week to a 35- or 36-hour week, without a reduction in pay.

To be able to work less while providing the same level of service and productivity, workers and managers alike made strategic and creative changes to their working patterns and dynamics, constantly rethinking how tasks were completed and using working hours in a more efficient way.


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Nick’s take on 4-day workweek

A 4-day workweek for 5 days pay is really about efficiency. And I think we all know it. Many successful businesses seem to succeed in spite of themselves, because employees find ways to get the work done. Cut the work week to 4 days, and it seems workers figure out how to still get it all done for the same pay. Don’t miss the quote from the Stanford professor who suggests cutting the work week and cutting pay — what do you think of that?

Is a 4-day workweek really feasible? What would it take to make this happen in the U.S.?



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  1. So how does this play out for people with billable hour targets? Are we looking at reducing overall compensation for those roles in exchange for a Monday or Friday off? Or do we turn bench time into free time? In any case, this puts more pressure on the balance between being billable and training, especially for people in the IT sector. I’ve got a team where we’re working hard to meet our billable % goals *and* to keep up with developments in our product and tech in general, and I’d really like them to not burn out… so how do I fit all those pieces together in a way that keeps them happy, same pay, and just as productive or better?

    • @Dean: Good question. I don’t think “they” have figured that one out yet. I don’t know whether the Iceland study included folks like you.

      Suggestions from others?

    • Awesome question. If you have been in management for many years this perfect time to bring your business skills to use. In IT/Sales/Operations lets whiteboard it out. What about this process (.d or .exe or policy). With management lets think about it (hmmm) without white-boarding out. Well we management can’t figure it out hire a consultant.

  2. The “4-10s” is more common in hourly jobs where I live, particularly in some of the manufacturing sector. I’ve heard mostly positive feedback. Working M-Th, with Friday off, giving 3 day weekends. People are able to get personal business done with the Friday off, rest up, and employers save on utilities with the extra down day.

  3. A 4-day week, with remote work option for suitable situations, would enable many physical central workspaces to accommodate at least a 10% increase in staffing.

    Some people might, maybe, come into work M-T and Th-F, taking the free day in the middle. Others might come in starting Tuesday instead of Monday. Or maybe work remotely one or two days, and come in only two or three; etc., etc., etc.

    Less central space per person is usually conceptualized as a cost-saving opportunity, but it can also be a growth opportunity enabling easy integration of new hires.

    • @JR: I like your perspective. Using a reduction in office time to cut costs yields a kind of junk profitability. A healthy company will use it as an opportunity to grow. I hope we get to see what happens!