The 4-Day Work Week

A few years ago Fresh Air Educators performed an HR experiment: We offered all our full time salaried employees the option to pick between 2 work schedules:

  • Status quo: 5 days @ 7.5hrs at current pay
  • 4-day work week: 4 days @ 7.5hrs – Every Friday off
    Work 20% less but take  a 10% pay cut

Here are some of the learnings:

Myths

You Will Be 20% Less Productive

Working 20% less DOES NOT mean 20% less productivity.  The 80/20 rule kicks in: The most important things will still get done while the 20% dropped will be the least important things (which probably only account for 5% of weekly productivity). By only working 80% of the time, you will still reap 95% of value.

Lazy Friday Afternoons
become Lazy Thursday Afternoons

One challenge I thought we would have is lazy Friday afternoons shifting to lazy Thursday afternoons. In our case, this does not appear to have happened.

Benefit

Obvious Employee Perk

Offering an optional 4 day work-week to your employees is an obvious perk which leads to the following benefits for your business:

  • Easier to hire of top talent
  • Less employee turn over
  • Optional cost savings: If you are looking to save costs, you can offer the optional 4 day work week in exchange for a 10% pay cut.  (Employees work 20% less, but only take a 10% pay cut – so they are coming out ahead by 10%)

Happier, more rested, more productive staff

Your staff will have a long weekend every weekend.  That’s 52 extra days off a year.

Remove Yourself as the Bottleneck

As the business owner, you will receive 20% less requests and e-mails to answer.  Which means that your staff will be spending less time waiting on you.  Although *you* should really also work a 4 day work week,  your 5th day can be spent catching up and doing longer term “quadrant 2 activities” that you normally can never find the time to do.

Negatives

No Work Gets Done on Friday

This applies more to specialized departments like Customer Service, QA, etc… Ie: If a bug is reported late Thursday afternoon, and QA does not have the time to fully investigate it, then we will often get delayed until Monday mid morning before the bug is officially reported to the dev team.

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