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The four-day workweek is gaining popularity in the U.S.

The move toward a shorter workweek is catching on in city governments and school districts, as well as many businesses across the country.

As businesses and organizations look for new ways to attract employees and cater to work-life balance, one movement gaining traction is the four-day workweek, which often involves working four 10-hour days, or fewer hours per week overall. That arrangement is being used in different countries around the world and recent polls show that U.S. workers want it, too. According to CNBC, a July 2023 survey of more than 2,300 adults found that 81% of full-time employees support remote or hybrid work, including a four-day workweek.

And a June 2023 survey of 600 U.S. business leaders from found that businesses in the U.S. are slowly moving toward a four-day week for those employees that are able and eligible to do so (eligibility depends on level of responsibility, remote work location, job performance and the position). A vast majority of the respondents (92%) said they viewed the shorter workweek as a way to reduce employee turnover.

The four-day workweek – where workers either work 32 hours per week or four 10-hour shifts, was once only embraced in Europe, but started gaining traction during the pandemic along with the worker shortages that followed.

“The pre-pandemic baseline of going into an office five days a week is dead for many workers, says Nick Bunker, an economist at job site Indeed. “Remote work is here to stay.”

Support for a four-day workweek is highest among the Gen Z worker population, but it has even reached Congress. In 2023, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., introduced legislation that would alter the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours, phased in over a three-year period. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has also championed the four-day workweek.

Advantages of the Four-Day Workweek

One of the best elements of a 4-day workweek is that it requires the reorganization of work, and cuts out the least productive activities, such as meetings.

For a majority of employees, a four-day workweek translates to better health. According to a 2023 Time magazine poll, 40%of workers said they felt less stressed and less anxious, and more than 70% reported decreased burnout. Almost half of the workers said they weren’t as tired and 40% said it was easier to fall asleep. All in all, a whopping 96% of employees say they prefer four-day schedules.

The most comprehensive four-day workweek trial in recent years — in which 2,900 workers from 61 companies in the U.K. participated from June to December 2022 — has released its results.

The study found that the four-day workweek increased job satisfaction, improved work-life balance, and reduced stress. The results also showed a significant reduction in absences and sick days. The study also showed the four-day workweek is becoming increasingly attractive for employers looking to reduce costs. Of the 61 companies that took part in the trial, 92% are continuing with the four-day week, and 18 of those organizations have declared that it will be a permanent change.

Trials in European countries have documented:
  • Reduced stress from overworking Improved morale and job satisfaction

  • Less absenteeism and sick days

  • Reduced turnover and improved retention Improved productivity and focus Preferred downtime in terms of a whole day Reduced commuting, emissions, mileage, and time

Although the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of a four-day workweek, the reality is that not all industries are currently able to make the switch.

The Future of the Four-Day Workweek

Although the four-day workweek may be the future of employment in the U.S., only time will tell. More comprehensive and robust data collection and analysis could pave the way.

The four-day work week is gaining popularity in the U.S.
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