4 Day Workweek May Soon Be a Reality: Benefits and Drawbacks

There is growing momentum to change the typical five-day workweek, which has been in effect for more than 80 years in the US. The pandemic forced the move to remote work and opened the door for consideration of increased flexible work arrangements and the four-day workweek.

The Traditional Five-Day, 40-Hour Workweek

Before 1900, the average work week was over 60 hours, and Saturday was a regular work day. Weekly hours began to fall as pressures mounted from labor unions.

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, known for establishing the assembly line, was also among the first to standardize the five-day workweek, instead of the prevalent six days, without reducing employees’ pay.

The move to remote work changed the attitude of employees and employers when those who work from home were encouraged to do, and productivity didn’t fall off the cliff.

Growing Interest in The 4-Day Workweek

When working from home was taken up, and productivity didn’t fall off the cliff, employees’ and employers’ attitudes to remote work changed. Workers in specific industries like restaurants and hospitality went on furloughs, lost their livelihoods, and sought jobs with more flexible arrangements.

There are variations of the four-day workweek, which range from 4 days at the same 40 hours, an increase to 10 hours per day; 4-day workweek but splitting days equally with two days in the office and remote work; and the most popular, the four-day workweek with 32 hours, or 8 hours per day.

Technological advances in productivity, including robotics, information technology, and skill-building, have contributed to the argument of having four-day workweeks for employees, while AI may drive further efficiencies.

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