Published February 5, 2024

Estimated read time: 4 min


The 4 Day Work Week: 5 Tips for Leaders

Introduction

As the demand for work flexibility rises, organisations are redefining their employment strategies. The four-day work week, coupled with remote work possibilities, has emerged as a key focus for companies aiming to enhance talent attraction. However, the implementation of a condensed work week comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. How can leaders navigate this shift and ensure its success ?


Embracing Change: The Evolution of the Work Week

From Henry Ford to Modern Trials 

A century ago, visionaries like Henry Ford proposed reducing the workweek to enhance productivity. In the 21st century, tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, are reimagining the traditional 9-to-5 model. The paradigm shift, with Google's Larry Page advocating for a four-day work week, is gaining momentum. Beyond personal benefits, environmental considerations and climate change mitigation further support this transformation.

Proactive Initiatives and Social Implications 

Initiatives like the World Economic Forum's "Preparing for the Future of Work" and the UK's 4-day week pilot program highlight a proactive approach to evolving work trends. Studies, such as one from Reading University, underscore positive impacts on family life, mental health, and physical fitness with a four-day work week. The successful pilot in Iceland further substantiates the positive effects on worker well-being.


Advantages and Disadvantages of a 4-Day Work Week

Positive Outcomes 

The potential advantages for both employers and employees include heightened productivity, innovation, talent attraction, employee satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, improved morale, and enhanced well-being. Microsoft's experiment in Japan demonstrated a nearly 40% boost in productivity during a four-day work week.

Industry-Specific Challenges 

However, some industries may face challenges such as decreased morale, increased costs for employers, managerial complexities, higher workloads for employees, and potential client dissatisfaction. Striking a balance between benefits and drawbacks is crucial for effective implementation.

Examples of companies that have implemented this system

  • ADIDAS 

Adidas is a German sportswear and equipment company. It announced in 2023 that it would switch to a 4-day week for all its employees in Germany. The company said this would enable it to improve employee productivity and well-being.

Adidas has introduced a 4-day week from July 1, 2023. Employees now work 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They have the option of taking an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said it had taken this decision after finding that employees who worked 4 days a week were more productive and satisfied with their work. Adidas also stated that the 4-day week system would enable it to reduce its operating costs.

  • Microsoft

Microsoft is an American technology company. It tested a 4-day week in 2019 and saw a 40% increase in productivity. The company said it plans to make the system permanent.

Microsoft tested a 4-day week for 4 months in its London office. Employees now worked 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They had the option of taking an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said that employees who worked 4 days a week were more productive because they were less tired and more focused. Microsoft also said that the 4-day week system reduced employee stress and improved job satisfaction.

  • Netflix

Netflix is an American video streaming company. It announced in 2022 that it would offer its employees the possibility of working 4 days a week. The company said this would enable it to recruit and retain the best talent.

Netflix offers its employees the possibility of working 4 days a week, but they still have to work 8 hours a day. The company said it was ready to adapt the system according to its employees' needs.

Netflix said it was offering this possibility to its employees to attract and retain the best talent. The company also said it believed the 4-day week system would improve employee well-being and productivity.

  • Bolt

Bolt is an Estonian VTC company. It announced in 2022 that it would switch to a 4-day week for all its employees. The company stated that this would enable it to reduce its environmental impact and promote the well-being of its employees.

Bolt implemented a 4-day week from January 1, 2023. Employees now work 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They have the option of taking an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said it had taken this decision to reduce its environmental impact. Bolt also stated that the 4-day week system would enable it to promote the well-being of its employees and reduce stress at work.


5 Tips for Leaders to Successfully Implement a 4-Day Work Week

Strategic Implementation 

Implementing a four-day work week goes beyond merely reducing work hours; it involves enhancing productivity, customer service, and achieving business goals. Andrew Barnes, founder of 4 Day Week Global, emphasizes the need for thoughtful planning.

Clear Guidelines and Communication 

Leaders should introduce changes gradually, schedule no communications on the day off, avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, offer flexibility, and foster a culture of trust. Clear guidelines and effective communication are key to defining what a four-day work week means for the company.

Learning from Successful Cases 

Drawing inspiration from successful cases, such as Unilever in New Zealand, where a four-day week trial is ongoing, and companies like Buffer, Headspace, Piktochart, Shopify, Kickstarter, Toshiba, and Bolt have embraced the concept, can provide valuable insights.


Final Takeaways

Leaders are encouraged to consider piloting a reduced-hours working week for a limited period to assess its impact on team productivity. The four-day work week represents an opportunity for leaders to shape a more balanced and efficient future of work.