A universal four day week would benefit all kinds of workers and nearly every sector and industry has companies and nonprofits that have successfully switched to a 4 day week, or other form of reduced hour work week, without reducing pay. A 4 day week is most readily achievable for salaried workers with computer-centric labor–but it cannot be limited to these companies. For salaried workers engaged in labor that requires physical presence, like manufacturing, construction and healthcare, a 4 day week is very achievable and there are success stories across the world to prove it. The five day workweek was pioneered in auto manufacturing, after all. For hourly wage workers, we know that the priority is the ability to earn a living wage. While a standard 4 day week doesn't directly address the problem, it calls upon employers to pay workers more per hour and creates a new standard for evaluating how hourly wages add up to a fair and liveable annual income. Finally, for the growing class of gig workers, a universal 4 day week would expand the time when most gig work occurs (outside of standard working hours), giving gig workers more opportunities and more control over their working hours. This would benefit us all and now is the time to make it happen.
Your signature matters. Signing the petition helps the 4 Day Week Global Foundation recruit employers to pilot a 4 day week. For employers with significant employee support, 4 Day Week will reach out to encourage them to join our global pilot in 2022. Participating employers will receive the support of experts from the 4 Day Week organization and researchers at Harvard, Oxford, and Boston College in assessing pilot outcomes.
A #4dayweek is better for people, better for business, and better for society. Let’s make it happen! Sign the petition at action.4dayweek.com
A reduced-hour work week means more family time and improved mental and physical health. An extra day for "life" means we’re more likely to rest, exercise, schedule doctor's visits, enjoy the outdoors, start a family, play with our kids, and care for our elders—without sacrificing our pay or our careers. Leaders who move their workplace to a shorter work week see these effects in real-time: employees are more engaged, take less sick days, and experience less burnout.
Thousands of companies are currently piloting a reduced-hour work week—or have permanently adopted it—benefiting auto workers and waiters to engineers and lawyers. Employers report increased productivity, stronger talent attraction and retention, and sometimes even lower overhead. A shorter work week also gives employees time to develop new skills they can apply at work.
A society with less time “on the clock” means more time in our communities. Studies show people with 4 day weeks often spend their time volunteering with their faith-based organizations, chipping in at food banks, helping their neighbors, buying from small businesses, and engaging in local issues. Reduced-hour workplaces are also better gender balanced. Caretakers, especially working mothers, benefit from a reduced-hour schedule, and women with 4 day weeks find their workplace to be more flexible and equitable.
Shortening the work week can reduce commutes and shrink our global carbon footprint. Americans produce 10% less carbon emissions from electricity and drive 17% fewer miles on the average weekend day than the average weekday; introducing a third weekend day would reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 45 million metric tons–more than the total emissions of Oregon and Vermont combined.
Author. Father. Advocate.
"Going to a flexible, four-day week schedule was honestly one of the best turning points in my life. This, more than anything, helped us split our caring duties evenly, and ensured we could share the mental load of managing a home with two toddlers running on as much combined energy as the sun. Working flexibly has made my life more rewarding. I have had one day during the week to be with my two children and take care of them during this time, and they are the most special moments in my life. We goof around and play games in the warm sun, grab coffees and treats from our local cafes, explore little bush tracks near our house, and watch the winter waves crash on the creamy sands of the northern beaches while we draw pictures with sticks and build castles. To have this time to refocus my mind on what is important in life, to distance myself (even just a little) from work, and to reaffirm my close relationship with my children, is truly priceless. I’m a better person for it and it helps with my levels of anxiety and stress generally."
White collar businesses that typically work out of offices have been the most common organizations to adopt a 4 day week. 64% of businesses offering a 4 day week have seen increased productivity, while workers are overwhelmingly less stressed and happy.
Philadelphia software company Wildbit moved to a 4 day week in 2018. Focusing on their essential work and minimizing distractions, they shipped more and developed a stronger workplace.
“When we reviewed our first year of four-day weeks, we realized we launched more features than the previous year. This surprised us and helped us commit to continuing with the schedule. The real value of a four-day week comes from healthy pressure and forced downtime. Since we know we only have four days to get our work done, we work smarter to avoid distractions and cut through the procrastination . . . And with a three-day weekend, every person is poised to start their work on Monday.”
Working parents face huge challenges in today’s always-on workplace. Young mothers in particular struggle to raise children while staying in the workforce, and are likely to suffer career setbacks when they move to flexible schedules. Shorter workweeks make it easier for parents to start families and raise children; make societies more family-friendly; and could help slow falling birth rates in developed economies.
Buffer successfully moved to a permanent 4 day week in 2020 after trialing the shift during the pandemic. Their decision to adopt a 4 day week was made "very much with parents in mind" as working parents had to suddenly manage their children's educations in the home.
"“Our shift to the flexibility of a 4 day workweek has been one of the most key things keeping my family of 5 healthy & safe this past year. The trust & flexibility to work the schedule that works for me & my family is everything.”
The five day week was started in the manufacturing industry at Ford and Kellog. The 4 day week is possible as well–and can lead to the same economic and social benefits that was seen with the transition of a six day week to a five day week.
CMG Technologies, which makes precision metal components, moved its workforce to a 4 day week in 2014. The firm is a leader in metal injection molding, which lets the 28-person firm produce medical-grade scalpels, and components for aerospace companies. The work requires creativity, attention to detail, and the ability to innovate— injection molding is usually used with plastics, and few companies have learned to apply it to metal.
"It has absolutely transformed life for our employees - creating significantly lower job stress and helping them strike a better work-life balance. Beyond wellbeing, our team is stronger and functions better and this has impacted the bottom line and allowed us to retain our very valuable employees. What we do is very specialised so it's vital we attract and retain talent and the 4 day week appears to be the icing on the cake for employees who want to split their week in a more efficient way."
The construction industry encompasses a wide variety of labor, from design, legal, and compliance work, to pouring concrete and wiring up buildings. For builders and contractors, a shorter workweek allows workers more time for recovery, family, and professional development, while encouraging companies to review and improve their processes.
Elektra Lighting is a UK-based contractor that designs lighting installations for hotels, restaurant chains, retail stores, and historic buildings. The company juggles multiple projects at once, and their lighting engineers have to coordinate their schedules with construction crews, electricians, interior decorators, and others. Further, as Elektra founder Neil Knowles wrote, it's "an industry that prizes long hours and tells you you’ve failed if you’re not working 60-hour weeks." Nonetheless, they moved to a 4 day week in early 2019.
“For the staff, including me, a 3 day weekend revolutionises your life. With two days off, you only just recover from the week before starting again. With three, it’s a whole new ball game.... We’re a team of creative lighting consultants. We work on restaurants and hotels and retail projects, so we cannot live in isolation. We need to be inspired, to breathe, and to notice the interesting detail in the stonework that we never noticed before because we had to rush and hurry.... Do we do the same amount of work? Seem to. Are we more mindful and more conscious of every moment, trying not to waste time? Yes.”
It’s been a challenging year for restaurants. But the industry was facing challenges before COVID. It’s getting harder and harder for chefs to staff their restaurants. 80-hour weeks, burns, stress and lack of work-life balance mean it’s becoming a less and less attractive career option. As restaurants roar back to life, some have successfully made the switch to reducing hours to provide better work-life balance for employees and fuel the creativity and passion that drives the restaurant industry.
Chef Bruno Chemel opened his Palo Alto, California restaurant Baumé in 2012. It was awarded a Michelin star its first year, and a second star the year after. Running a restaurant to such a high standard is stressful, and eventually Bruno realized that by moving to a 4 day week, he could maintain quality without burning out.
“I was not focusing on my job, I have a lot of stress, a lot of energy out, and I was so tired, but at the end of the day, for what?… Then we realized that... [the] more you work, less efficient you are, more tired. Then you realize, working less, you are more efficient. Opening four days make us more efficient, more focused, maybe better.”
While often initiated by budget concerns or the COVID epidemic, numerous school systems have found they can provide the same or better level of education in four days as they had in five. The extra time provides teachers with more space to develop more effective classes and feedback, while students have more time to rest and do homework without burning out from overload.
In 2017 the Cobre School District in New Mexico moved to a 4 day week. A shorter workweek has helped reduce teachers turnover, and saved the district money on substitutes and recruiting fees. In a rural district where 90 minute commutes to school are common, students save hundreds of hours of driving each year. And teachers say that they have more time for class preparation and professional development.
“I feel that extra day gave me… one day off to rest and recover as well. But it also — it made my classroom and my teaching that much better, because my lesson plans were better, more in-depth.”
The medical facilities that have pioneered 4 day weeks have seen better outcomes for patients and healthcare workers. A 4 day week in clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes has been done and can extend to other essential workers.
Virginia nursing home The Glebe reduced certified nurses assistants’ workweek from 40 hours to 30 hours without cutting pay. The program costs them about $140,000 a year in salaries, but saves over $120,000 a year in job search and temporary agency costs. The program also reduced turnover, and improved quality of care.
“It’s not easy to provide care for people who are elderly, have multiple clinical issues, and co-morbidities. Having staff that's the best of the best is paramount. With a 30-hour week you’re increasing staff quality, you’re becoming a staff destination, you’re promoting continuity of care and improving outcomes, and staff feel valued because they’re being paid a lot more than their peers. Staff are always on the floor with the residents; falls, abrasions, and infections are down, and call bell response time is shorter. I believe the 30-hour week is the silver bullet to the staffing crisis. You have to have good leadership and a good solid foundation before you run this program, and I think a lot of people in the industry lack the courage to give it a try. But what’s the worst that happens? We go back to the same old way. ”
There is often concern from organizations that rely on clients that moving to a four day week could lose them clients. However, many consulting firms and agencies across the world have moved to a 4 day week without losing a client. All it takes is communication and expectation setting.
Rich Leigh moved Radioactive PR to a 4 day week in 2018. One year in, the company was signing up new clients (and no company had rejected them because of their 4 day week), profits were the same, and the number of applicants doubled. Even though they were doing five days’ work in four, employees were taking half as many sick days, and three-quarters said they were definitely enjoying better work-life balance.
“Clients have been amazingly supportive – both clients that were with us prior to the change and new ones we’ve taken on since. Results and communication are still a priority for us, and in the world of PR, where you’re constantly proving yourself and there are plenty of other alternative agencies for clients to choose, there’d be immediate and irrefutable feedback if it wasn’t working because clients would be off!”
Governments face the same challenges as companies with recruiting and retaining talent, encouraging innovation, and reducing stress and burnout without sacrificing service. Some offices (especially in small towns and rural counties) move to a 4 day week; others expand office hours from 8 to 12 hours a day, and divide staff between 6-hour shifts.
Morgantown, a city of 180,000 in West Virginia, trialed a 4 day workweek option for public employees in 2020, as part of an effort to increase flexibility for public employees during the pandemic. (Kauai County in Hawaii, and Jefferson County in Colorado, likewise implemented 4 day weeks for non-emergency public employees at the same time.)
During the pandemic, “two things have become increasingly apparent. The first is just how important it is to spend time with family. The second is that there is always room for improvement in how we provide services to our customers. By transitioning our schedules during this pilot program, we can provide extended hours to residents, businesses, and contractors while allowing our employees to spend more time at home with their families.”
A successful pilot of a 4 day week is a pact between an employer and their people. It takes commitment and trust from both sides. Build up support for a trial among fellow employees and learn how to approach your employer in a constructive and cooperative way to find a path that can work for everyone.
We support employees and employers who want to move towards a reduced hour week with tools, guidance, and advice. We are running a global pilot program from January 2022 which will create a community of businesses all trailing at the same time. Invite your employer to join us. For employers with significant employee support on this campaign, 4 Day Week will reach out directly to encourage them to join our global pilot in 2022.
Build support for a trial: Getting employee interest in a 4 day week at your organization is important for building momentum and interest in a trial. Share this petition with coworkers and we’ll share with you the number of employees who have signed on. Click here to see how many people want a 4 day week at your employer.
Reach out to us: Once you have sufficient support at your workplace, get in touch for advice on how best to approach your employer in a constructive and positive way about piloting a 4 day week.
Make a proposal: Put together a proposal for how your employer might trial a 4 day week and why the company should consider adopting a 4 day week.
Start the conversation: The process of successfully adopting a 4 day week takes intention and commitment from both the employer and employees. Work with your employer to devise a plan that works for everyone.
Director at Assertive
Working a four-day week has meant that employees could use that extra day to go for training, take a class, learn something new at the library or relax, but do something they’d not normally do. One employee took the time to build their own brand, a cookery blog, and now uses their day to make content and expand their audience. Productivity can come in many shapes and forms, it does not always have to mean sales or however your company rate success. If employees are bettering themselves, this is another type of success.
The research whitepaper examining the successful four day week pilot at Perpetual Guardian, a 200-person financial services firm in 2018. The firm found dramatic increases in firm productivity and employee well-being and have permanently adopted a 4 day week.
With its emphasis on productivity, The 4 Day Week tackles hard issues facing our world, for example stress and the breakdown in mental health, gender equality in pay, and the environmental crisis. 4 day weeks offer significant societal benefits from relief of congested highways and public transport systems, reduction in healthcare costs, through to more harmonious families and more purposeful lives.
Shorter tells the story of entrepreneurs and leaders all over the world who have discovered how to shrink the workweek without cutting salaries or sacrificing productivity or revenues. They show that by reducing distractions, eliminating inefficiencies, and creating time for high-quality focus and collaboration, 4-day workweeks can boost recruitment and retention, make leaders more thoughtful and companies more sustainable, and improve work-life balance. Using design thinking, a business and product development process pioneered in Silicon Valley, futurist and consultant Alex Pang creates a step-by-step guide for readers to redesign their workdays.
The first in a series of blog posts by Colorado-based Uncharted on how they designed and assessed their 4 day week pilot. Uncharted decided to permanently adopt a 4 day week after their 3 month trial.
Henley’s research reveals how a shorter working week on full pay could add to businesses’ bottom lines through increased staff productivity and an uplift in staff physical and mental health, while also resulting in a cleaner environmental footprint.