The four-day workweek may once have been a novel and lofty idea – merely considered, but infrequently implemented by companies — but it has recently started growing in popularity. According to an article released by Forbes this year, many top companies have joined the global movement, 4 Day Week Global. Around 35 companies in North America and 20 or so companies worldwide have joined the 4 Day Week Global campaign and are currently testing the four-day workweek.

A poll by UK University of Reading’s Henley Business School found that 21 percent of companies throughout the country had already adopted a four-day workweek by 2021. However, the four-day workweek has been around for a lot longer. A recent Insider article noted that, though still not as widely implemented at the time, companies, activists, and academics have been discussing, testing, and debating the topic of a shorter workweek for roughly 80 years.

Some countries that have already experimented with shorter working hours include:

  • Spain and Scotland trialed a 32-hour workweek in 2021.
  • Iceland trialed a 36-hour workweek from 2015-2019.
  • The United Arab Emirates permanently moved to a 36-hour workweek at the end of 2021.

Each country found employees to be happier and more productive as a result of the four-day workweek trial. Now, in 2022, the professional world seems to be embracing a shorter workweek more than ever. For example, 70 companies in the UK alone implemented a four-day workweek starting in June of this year.

The advantages of the four-day workweek

While working four days instead of five is an excellent perk for employees, company leaders and employers can also benefit from the shorter workweek. There is plenty of evidence of the advantages for companies, including:

1. Higher productivity: Dispelling the antiquated belief that working more hours equates to greater productivity, an experiment conducted in New Zealand detailed that working more results in just the opposite. In fact, the study revealed that workers are more energized, productive, and punctual when they work 32-hour workweeks.

2. Increased employee engagement: CEO of New Zealand estate planning services company Perpetual Guardian and founder of the 4-Day Week Global grassroots nonprofit organization, Andrew Barnes documented a 20 percent increase in employee engagement since adopting a four-day workweek.

3. Better mental health and wellbeing for employees: Fewer hours at work can help decrease stress, help workers feel they can achieve greater work-life balance, and allow employees to spend more time with their loved ones, as noted by the company Enterprise League.

4. Improved retention rates: A report released by LinkedIn highlighted that 63 percent of professionals surveyed value work-life balance more than salary and consider it a top priority when searching for a new role. Offering a four-day workweek is an effective way to improve work-life balance, reduce attrition, and drive retention.

4 influential companies championing the four-day workweek

With more data surfacing about the benefits of the four-day workweek for employees and company leaders alike, it’s not surprising that some of the world’s leading companies have adopted the four-day workweek trend. Here are four examples of businesses that have implemented a shorter workweek and reported great success as a result:

1. Microsoft 
Tech giant Microsoft is no stranger to innovation. The company was featured in a People magazine article after testing the four-day workweek as a summer project in 2019. Teams reported a 39.9 percent increase in productivity compared to 2018 numbers.

2. Kickstarter 
Implementing a four-day workweek was a trailblazing move by U.S. public benefit corporation, Kickstarter. The company has gone 100 percent remote and announced this year that they would be adopting the shorter workweek. This came with the added commitment from the company to promote and encourage workers to seek out personal and professional growth opportunities and passion projects.

3. Perpetual Guardian  
Barnes noted significant benefits since embracing and advocating for the four-day workweek; in addition to a 20 percent increase in employee engagement, the company reported through the 4-Day Week Global platform that professionals who work four days are 78 percent happier and less stressed.

4. Panasonic 
Multinational company Panasonic is revolutionizing work conditions and traditional work models in a region where long hours are expected. The company rolled out the four-day workweek in Japan, where only about 8 percent of companies offer more than two assured days away from work a week, as reported by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. While the four-day workweek pilot is still ongoing, the company’s objectives for the experiment include promoting employee retraining, attracting talent, and increasing worker productivity and happiness through decreased stress.

What is your company doing to keep up with changing work style trends?

The increasing popularity of the four-day workweek is clear. Workers and company leaders alike can leverage the many benefits that a shorter workweek offers: an increase in engagement and productivity and, just as importantly, a decrease in work-related stress.

While companies can boost team efficiency by adopting a four-day workweek, they can also support employees by establishing flexible work environments. At Globalization Partners (G-P), we value our employees’ wellbeing and prioritize a healthy work-life balance through our remote-first, hybrid approach to the workplace.

However your company plans to support your employees, ensuring an end-to-end positive employee experience builds a strong and competitive employer brand that will both attract and retain employees — and when delivered through G-P’s comprehensive Global Growth Platform™, the process is simple and sets your team up for continued success.

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