4 Day Work Week- Should you do a 4 Day Work Week this year? Does it really lead to higher productivity? The result from our trial run and what the research says

Tired of the five-day grind but asking if the 4 day work week really works? Today we’re answering that question for you…we’ll dig into its history, give you the results from our trail run, explore the latest research , and give you our recommendation. 

Over the last ten years the four-day work week has been gaining traction worldwide, with companies from Microsoft, to Dolby, to Unilever giving it a spin. 

It’s a simple concept: cut out wasted time and get your workload done in four days, leaving one glorious day for family, hobbies, or simply recharging.

It’s basis of the idea comes from Parkinson’s Law that states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you want more on this law and how to avoid it happening to you listen to episode 61 where we dive deep in to it. But for now you get the idea, if you have a week to get everything done it will take you a week, if you have 4 days to get that same work done you’ll get it done in 4 days and have 3 to yourself. 

The seeds of the four-day week were sown back in the 1920s by Bertrand Russell, a British renaissance man who excelled in philosophy, logic, mathematics, and social activism, who envisioned a world where automation freed us from drudgery. 

Fast forward to today, and pilot programs are popping from the tech industry to the consumer packaged good industry.

We tried it for the first half of last year and tempered success. We all felt less stress and more motivated to come back to work on Monday. BUT, a few weeks when our workloads were really heavy we found ourselves having to work part of Friday. This led to some disappointment because we all felt like we were failing ourselves.

Ultimately we aimed for Friday’s off but it didn’t happen on a regular basis. It’s worth noting that we are a small company (ten people) constrained by limited resources. If we were bigger things could be different.

This year we’re aiming for a hybrid where we have off every other Friday.

That’s what happened to us, here’s what the research says across 4 studies…

  1. Microsoft Japan: A Harvard Business Review study “4-Day Workweek Experiment: One of the Largest Shows Positive Results” (2021) analyzed Microsoft Japan’s trial. The Results: Employee happiness increased by 23%, stress levels decreased by 31%, and productivity rose by 40%.

  2. Iceland: A 2022 study published in Autonomy Work Relationship journal, analyzed Iceland’s large-scale trial involving over 2,500 employees. The Results: Workers reported less stress, improved well-being, and no change in productivity compared to the five-day week.

  3. UK Pilot Program: Another Autonomy report titled “Beyond the Five-Day Workweek: Employee Experiences of the Four-Day Week UK Pilot Programme” published in (2023) analyzed data from UK companies participating in a large-scale trial. The Results: 88% of employees reported improvements in well-being, 70% felt less stressed, and 62% felt more productive. Companies saw no decrease in output and some improvements in customer satisfaction.
    And a 4th study…
  4. Titled “Four-Day Work Week Trial A Success”published in 2023  by Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, reported on their internal four-day week trial these Results: Employee engagement increased by 20%, burnout rates decreased by 71%, and revenue grew by 23% compared to the same period the previous year.

These studies clearly suggest the four-day work week can have numerous positive benefits for both employees and companies, including increased productivity, improved well-being, and reduced stress. 

So, should you hop on the four-day bandwagon? 

It depends. While the research is promising, remember the studies were done with larger companies, consider your company’s size, culture and your own workload. But before you dismiss it, remember: time is your most precious asset. The four-day week isn’t just about working less, it’s about living more. So, explore the possibilities and see what you can make work.

Your move.

If you liked this post you’ll ❤️ the…PRODUCTIVITY Podcast I host where you get a daily dose of productivity in LESS than 4 minutes a day.