In Defense of the 4-day Workweek

Charlotte Graham-McLay for the New York Times:

The firm ran the experiment — which reduced the workweek to 32 hours from 40 — in March and April this year, and asked two researchers to study the effects on staff.
Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology, said employees reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life balance, and came back to work energized after their days off.

“Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Mr. Haar said. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

Not surprised by the results of this interesting study. Not completely unrelated, but taking an afternoon nap can lower your risk of heart-related death! If you take a step back from the results of either study, it’s apparent that reducing the hours of working (wether that is physically or mentally exhaustive) contributes to a better life.

Photo By: Trent Szmolnik

Just about every city in America should be all-in on improving the quality of life of their citizens. A change to the few, impacts everyone. In other words: a rising-tide lifts all boats. It appears the New Zealand study reveals a reduction in operating costs for businesses and takes car traffic off the road:

Noting that the company had seen lower electricity bills with 20 percent less staff in the office each day, Mr. Barnes said the change in work hours could have wider implications if more companies adopted such a strategy.

“You’ve got 20 percent of cars off the road in rush hour; there are implications for urban design, such as smaller offices,” he said.

But reducing the workweek can be expensive for other cities, as a similar study in Sweden shows. But it does corroborate public health results:

The study showed that employees felt healthier, which reduced sick-leave absence, and that patient care improved, but the city won’t push ahead to make the plan permanent.

Fascinating results. I would love to see a 4-day workweek become the norm. If you ask me, the trade-off is worth the coin spent.

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