Find out about the pros and cons of 4 workdays a week

You may have already heard of the debate in recent months about reducing the working week to 4 days, giving workers 3 days off. This proposal has already been tested in some countries, while in others it has become a real reality, but what is it about? Let's see it together.


What is it about?

This innovation consists in reducing the working week from five to four working days, maintaining or slightly reducing the number of working hours per week, in order to improve employee health, increase flexibility and productivity, with the consequence of a higher profit for the company. Some countries are experimenting with this practice to try to introduce it officially, for example Spain, Scotland, Portugal, and many others.

The short week seems to be a fresh topic, but some countries had started experimenting it years ago, like Iceland which started experimenting with it in 2015, and after three years of a shorter working week (only four days), with the same salary, employees of the municipality of Reykjavik and of the Icelandic government, have not decreased their productivity, which in some cases has even increased.

But they say they feel better, are less stressed, and are able to find time for their hobbies and balance work and home commitments more compatible. In some countries it is not a matter of experimentation, but of a real reality, as in Japan. A paradigmatic case is that of Microsoft Japan. The company has decided to shorten the working week to 4 days, announcing the decision as a test. With surprising results.

Productivity has shot up by 40 percent (benefit for the company), energy consumption has decreased by 23 percent as has paper consumption (other benefits for the company), while worker satisfaction has almost doubled (+ 92 percent). With the effect of higher earnings, more space for new hires and with positive benefits, in general, for the entire working environment in the company. Here is an interesting website that describes this procedure in some countries: 


Positive aspects

Let's get straight to the point and think of the countless positive aspects that have surely come to your mind. First of all, it is a question of improving the work experience for people, as the short week brings greater work productivity, thanks to the reduction of work stress.

A New Zealand marketing company has successfully experimented with the 4-day work week; the company reported an increase in employee satisfaction, while customers reported no change in service quality. A shorter working week could allow workers to have more time for their private and family life, improving work-life balance.

All of this could lead to higher employee job satisfaction, which could increase their motivation and productivity. Some experts say that the 4-day work week could lead to reduced consumption of energy and resources, thus reducing the environmental impact of production activity.

Finally, improving employee mental well-being levels could have a positive effect on the company's medical costs, reducing the number of absences from work and improving the quality of work. In Great Britain an experiment has been launched of cutting the weekly working days, reduced to only four, with a hundred companies and around 3,300 workers. The results have been excellent. Productivity has increased, 95 per cent of companies have declared themselves in favor of continuing on this path, and new opportunities for hiring have opened up. 


Negative aspects

Like everything in the world, there are also negative aspects, which have led some countries to avoid or postpone the introduction of the short week, let's see what they could be: reducing the number of working days could lead to an increase in workload on those working days. This could be stressful for the remaining workers. Furthermore, the change could lead to a decrease in salary, which could be perceived as negative by employees.

The short week may not be suitable for all companies or sectors. For example, manufacturing companies that need continuous work hours may find it difficult to restructure their operations into a shorter work week. However, for those companies operating in industries with more flexible working hours, the 4-day work week could be a viable solution.

Furthermore, the greatest fear of companies is the decrease in earnings following a decrease in working days, even if the countries that have experimented with the short week have noticed, on the contrary, an increase in productivity and therefore in earnings, given that employees they were less stressed, more rested, and therefore more motivated to work. 

Although the positive aspects, the experiments didn’t work in all countries, here is an interesting article that elaborates on this aspect:

The UK experiment


In all, 61 companies were involved, for a total of around 2,900 employees, who worked an average of 34 hours a week between June and December 2022, earning the same salary they received previously. The interested realities belong to the most disparate sectors: from finance to tech, even going from an activity specializing in fish and chips in Wells-next-the-sea, a town of 2,451 inhabitants in the county of Norfolk. A good 56 companies, therefore 92%, have chosen to continue on this road, 18 of which definitively.

The owners of most of the companies involved have confirmed that the productivity of their companies has not undergone negative changes. According to the research company Autonomy, which oversaw the project together with 4 Day Week Global, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Boston College and the 4 Day Week UK campaign, the one staged in Great Britain was "the biggest test of the four-day working week in the world". The data collected by Autonomy also showed a clear decrease in the number of employee resignations.

Alpha Solutions

Alpha Solutions offers many services for your agency, by finding the best specialist for what you need! Also, you can find some advice on our blog in order to have the best agency and work environment, besides the articles about many different and interesting articles. Here is one of the best articles about the working world: 

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