Why Some Employers Are Trying The 4-Day Workweek

Would workers benefit from a four-day work week?

In an era in which employers are cutting all imaginable costs to simply keep the lights on, it's not surprising that a few pioneering employers are experimenting with four-day workweeks. Georgia and Virginia have implemented trial phases of a plan for some government workers, reports the BBC.

Even a few private employers have tried it and report positive results. Steven Shattuck, 28, is a community manager at Slingshot SEO, a search engine optimization consultancy based in Indianapolis. He says that the company's four-day-a-week schedule is a "selling point" in recruiting new talent. And it invigorates the staff, he told the BBC

"We have really tight deadlines, it's very collaborative, we try to squeeze as much into our days as possible," Shattuck says. "On Monday mornings people aren't so groggy -- they hit the ground running."

At 37signals, a software firm, employees work a 32-hour, four-day workweek from May through October, and its CEO claims that he's seen an increase in productivity. "When there's less time to work, you waste less time," he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. "When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important."

Many sectors in the United Kingdom and Netherlands make use of a shortened workweek, but in the U.S., while employers may be willing to offer some flexibility, such as the ability to telecommute, the four-day workweek remains a fringe experiment.


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During the recession, a few employers cut hours -- and pay -- as a way to reduce costs, but most backed away from that. Utah, for instance, famously put into place a four-day workweek for 17,000 government workers back in 2008. Early reviews of the plan were positive. As Time magazine reported, after a year on the four-day workweek plan, the state coffers saw a 13 percent reduction in energy use. But by the third year of its application, the "4/10 workweek" stopped showing any savings in legislative audits, and in 2011, the Beehive state decided to ditch the plan.

Oregon and Texas considered and rejected a four-day workweek plan. And now, perhaps the biggest experiment is taking place on the other side of the Atlantic, in the West African country of the Gambia. On the orders of strongman Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia instituted a four-day workweek for its public sector workers effective Friday. For the mostly Muslim country, the idea is for workers to put in more hours over fewer days so that its citizens can "devote more time to ... agriculture," such as peanut harvesting, a vital aspect of the national economy, according to UPI.

What do you think? Would your workplace benefit from a four-day-a-week workweek? Share your comments below.

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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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17 Comments

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virginia

my town has been doing the 10 hr iin 4 days since the 70's. supposedly saves a lot of money.
my guy works for the us mint and he has a 91/2 hr day and every other week he gets off on fridays.

February 07 2013 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
peteymullen

keep tryin to put 10 pounds of sh*t in a 5 pound bag

February 07 2013 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
netexas121

Four day work week but better have that cell phone on a prepared to answer questions.

February 06 2013 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Joslyn

As for state by state wage laws, a four-day work week may work or it may not. Some companies can't or don't want to pay overtime which would be a problem for states that must pay overtime after eight hours worked on a given day. Other companies in states that pay overtime calculated week-by-week could easily take on four-day work weeks. I personally wouldn't mind working three 12 hour days for one company and have a part-time job working just a couple days per week. That or I'd just become self-employed and work for myself as well as for a company or just work for myself.

February 06 2013 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry

Martha you do if it is a union job...

February 06 2013 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mikeovessa

I would love it! No offense but I think people give more to their jobs then they get paid for. I work anywhere from 40 hours(rare occiasion) to a 65 hour work week. And that doesn't include taking work home, answering phone calls from customers, and e-mails from company. Really a 40 hour week is like a vacation. But don't worry I get paid 40 hour pay. I have friends from all over the world and they all say Americans work to much and never really enjoy living life. I mean the average life span is what now 78? and we spend the first 18 growimg up, now you have 60 years, the next 4 to 8 in college, now you have 56 to 52. And the rest busting your hump working. And you are only living this life once, 50 some years isn't a very long time.

February 06 2013 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wayne

So you work them 4 10 hour days. How the hell do you think that would save money. For one you now have to pay them overtime for working over two hours a day. Most government employees are lazy to begin with. Just try to call them and get something done in the same day. Look at the road crews. Wether its state or government workers you always have a bunch of them watching a few work. The government just don't have the balls to make people work or get rid of their lazy asses.

February 06 2013 at 3:09 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Wayne's comment
bobbyboy150

I had a job like that at one time. We worked 4 days with a 10 hour shift with a 3 day weekend. It was great. The company was very profitable & employee morale was very high. The owner said it was one of the best moves he had made.

February 06 2013 at 1:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cboowillie

Part time employees.... employers don't have to mess with ObamaCare!!

February 06 2013 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jerry Bear

Classic Westinghouse Study--Old School! The wheel goes round and round.

February 06 2013 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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