What Is a 4-Day Work Week and How To Achieve It (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The four-day workweek is a scheduling system in which staff members work one less day a week. Many businesses choose to implement this structure to improve staff morale and increase productivity. If you're interested in implementing a different schedule for your workplace, you may want to learn more about the benefits and how to negotiate for it. In this article, we explore what the shorter workweek is, how it can be beneficial, how to negotiate for it with your supervisor, frequently asked questions and tips for working this schedule.

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What is a 4-day work week?

A 4-day work week is a business schedule in which team members work four days a week rather than five. In most industries, the workweek is typically five days long, beginning on Monday and ending on Friday. This alternative schedule is shorter and offers staff longer weekends and reduced hours. When companies implement fewer workdays a week, team members don't work the full 35 or 40 hours in those four days, but only work 28 to 32 hours in a week.

Related: How To Be a Good Team Player in 7 Steps

Benefits of a shorter workweek

These are some benefits of restructuring the schedule to allow for fewer days:

  • Avoid overworking: Overwork is when staff members become less productive because of excessive hours. By working four days a week instead of five, you can avoid overwork by reducing hours and time expectations.

  • Increase productivity: When team members know that they have a long weekend to manage their personal tasks, they may be more productive at work by focusing on company tasks, rather than facing distractions from other responsibilities.

  • Form company loyalty: Most staff members who try working less than five days enjoy it, and if your company offers this schedule when your competitors don't, team members are more likely to commit to a long career with your business.

  • Create job fulfilment: This schedule allows employees to be more productive and creative, which may lead to more satisfactory work. When team members produce quality work and enjoy their time in the workplace, they're more likely to feel a sense of job fulfilment.

  • Promote life balance: Balancing life and career responsibilities is simpler when using this schedule, as staff members have nearly half of their week away from work to rest and spend time with their families.

  • Boost creativity: Original thinking and innovation are best when team members are happy and energised, and by expecting fewer hours of work from them, companies using this schedule may experience higher levels of creative thinking and more novel ideas.

  • Build work community: This strategy for conducting business promotes happiness and well-being among team members, and when employees are happy, they may be more likely to develop healthy professional relationships with their colleagues. This can help to create a strong work community that functions more effectively.

Related: Creative Skills in the Workplace

How to negotiate a four-day schedule

If you currently work on a five-day schedule and want to follow a shorter weekly schedule instead, you can approach your managers or supervisors and persuade them to try reduced hours. You can follow these steps to negotiate for a shorter workweek in your workplace:

1. Determine if it's best for your workplace

Before you consider approaching your supervisor or manager and discussing potentially restructuring the scheduling, ensure that it's workable for the company. The four-day week may not work for all workplaces. This schedule works best for those with regular, consistent work that does not depend on patrons. For example, it may not be feasible for a restaurant or shop to implement a shorter week, as it may cause lower pay for hourly employees and decrease profits. Restaurants and shops may make most of their money on the weekends rather than during the week, which may make long weekends off inconvenient.

2. Compile evidence of the benefits

Once you're sure the shorter week can positively influence your workplace, research the specific benefits to present to your manager. This may include increased productivity, positivity, creativity, teamwork and employee happiness. Consider preparing a presentation or literature for your manager to show how restructuring your workweek may benefit all staff. You may contact leaders of companies using an alternative workweek and ask them for information on their scheduling and how it has benefitted them. You can also contact staff working the shorter week and ask them about their experience and if they would recommend it to others.

3. Gather the support of your colleagues

You can use your evidence to discuss a change in the schedule with your colleagues. Present the information to them and educate them about the potential benefits of restructuring the workweek. Ask them for their thoughts and constructive criticism of your idea and presentation. If your colleagues can voice their support for the shorter workweek, it can show management that the shorter week can positively impact everyone.

Related: Improving Collaboration at the Workplace

4. Schedule a meeting with your manager

With your evidence and the support of your colleagues, schedule a time to meet with your manager or supervisor and discuss implementing a shorter workweek with them. Before the meeting, practise speaking confidently, sitting with correct posture and using respectful eye contact. During the meeting, you can suggest a trial period for the new schedule to see the results, as this can show management that you're invested in the benefits for the company.

Related: How To Demonstrate a Strong Work Ethic to Your Employer

5. Stay consistent and approachable

One meeting with your supervisor may not be enough to implement a new schedule. You may meet with or speak to many people within the company to present your case for a new structure. During this time, maintain your professionalism by staying consistent and approachable, and even if management decides against the shorter schedule, be sure to thank them for their time and consideration, as this may help you re-approach the subject in the future.

Four-day workweek FAQ

These are some answers to commonly asked questions about shorter workweeks:

Which countries have four-day workweeks?

There are no countries that require employers to schedule their staff for only four days a week, but there are many countries in which the new structure is popular. Companies and businesses in Japan, New Zealand and Iceland have offered four-day schedules to their staff. Many of those companies still offer the shorter week, and almost all reported increased productivity and success.

Is it better to work four or five days a week?

Which workweek is best for you depends on your career and your personal habits. Some companies and people can benefit from operating on a four-day schedule, while others may not experience the same perks. For example, a coffee shop may not offer its staff a shorter workweek as they may be open during the weekends. Those staff may prefer to work over four days to maintain their current earnings, as well.

Is working four days a week full time?

The scheduling status of an employee depends on how the company or business designs its structure. This means the shorter schedule may be full-time for some organisations, but not for others. For example, a company may decide that they consider 40 hours a week full-time, or they may determine that 32 hours is full-time. When a company implements an alternative workweek, they determine the number of hours they expect from their full-time employees. Because the four-day week includes reduced hours, companies may decide between 28 and 32 hours is their full-time hourly requirement.

Tips for working four days a week

These are some tips for optimising your time when working four days a week:

  • Track your productivity: To ensure you are producing an equal amount of quality work, develop a system for tracking your production. This may mean writing down each thing you accomplish or recording your numbers in a spreadsheet.

  • Plan for your days off: Knowing which personal responsibilities you may manage during your days off can allow you to use your time more effectively. Plan for rest, hobbies and management of personal tasks to optimise your weekends and return to work with optimism and energy.

  • Prepare for each day: Because you only have four days instead of five, it's important that each day is productive. To increase your productivity, begin your workdays by staying hydrated, active and positive.

  • Consider weekly tasks: Before each week begins, consider making a list of the work tasks you would like to complete. Understanding the specific tasks to finish each week allows you to organise your days and manage your time more effectively.

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