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Fewer Hours Same Pay Simply Implies: Working at limited hours and still getting the same payment you get during long hours of work which helps employees spend more time relaxing. A relaxed employee has a clear mind, gets distracted less easily, and has fewer problems focusing on work.

Looking at the four-day workweek Based on the Microsoft Japan example, the four-day workweek brings promising results on increasing employees’ productivity. In 2019, during the summer holiday, the company paid their employees the same salary for fewer hours worked. They also shortened half of the meetings, from 60 to 30 minutes.

The experiment resulted in a 40% increase in productivity, significantly lowering operating costs such as paper and electricity consumption.

Fewer hours same pay can result in the following;

  1. It helps save money for commuting

Slowly but steadily, employees come back to their offices after working remotely for more than a year. Companies also introduce hybrid work models that allow workers to perform their duties from home and the office during the work week. This way, time and money can be saved instead of wasted on commuting to work. And a four-day workweek and flexible work arrangements mean even more savings because it eliminates 20% of weekly commuting. Worth mentioning that it was one of the most often chosen perks of remote work in National Remote Work Report. It also reduces the stress the employees feel while commuting and is good for the environment because it lowers gas emissions and electricity production.

  1. It prevents job burnout

People who work for more than eight hours per week are struggling with a better work-life balance. Working too much affects mental health negatively, and the consequences can be seen worse overall well-being. It also causes problems with physical health caused by the higher stress levels. Such behavior leads straight to less job satisfaction and employee engagement.  That’s why a four-day workweek can be a remedy for job burnout. It results in a three-day weekend, and can greatly support a healthier work style, also helps maintain the accurate work-life balance. Working only four days and the promise of free Friday makes employees well-rested.

It also affects both physical and mental health positively. They’re less vulnerable to stressful situations and pay more attention to their responsibilities. Also, having less time to fulfill the duties in only four days brings more focus, which results in avoiding distractions.

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As an employer, giving your employees more control over their time has been said to have the following advantages;

  • Increased sales

  • Reduced employee burnout and improved employee retention

  • Lower operating costs for an office 

  • Larger applicant pool for open positions

What is four-day workweek?

A four-day workweek is a 32-hour workweek with no loss in productivity, pay, or benefits. Depending on the company and the industry, everyone might work Monday through Thursday and have Fridays off. Other possibilities include allowing each employee to choose their extra day off or having a company-wide policy of a different third day off, such as Monday or Wednesday. There are pros and cons to each choice. For example, keeping everyone on the same schedule increases opportunities for collaborative work but leaves a company unstaffed on days when most others are working. 

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A flexible third day off may be better for individual employees but harder for teams. There’s been a lot of talk about the potential benefits of working a four-day week instead of a five-day week. Making 32 hours the norm instead of 40 can lead to improved well-being for workers without a loss of productivity in businesses.

A number of studies have shown that at some point, productivity decreases as the number of hours worked increases. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of four-day workweek.

Advantages of a 4-Day Workweek

The fundamental goal of a four-day workweek is to improve workers’ quality of life. By working fewer hours overall and having three full days off, people have more time for personal priorities like these:

  • Spending quality time with family, friends, and pets

  • Caregiving

  • Doctor appointments

  • Personal development

  • Education

  • Travel

  • Hobbies

  • Home maintenance and improvements

  • Household management.

Disadvantage of a 4-Day Workweek 

  • It doesn’t suit all the business models

Not every industry can afford to switch to a different business model so easily. Many companies require 24/7 presence, so giving the employees one more day off can result in problems with shift scheduling.

  • Less time to fulfill the duties

4 days on, 3 days off work schedule means one day off more; however, not every employee can be satisfied. Taking one eight-hour day from the work week may be stressful for those who need some extra time to deliver the results of their work or participate in complex projects.

In the end, they’ll be working the same time as in five days a week schedule or overtime and won’t receive any tangible benefits.

  • High costs for businesses

Many employers can worry that the employees won’t have enough time to fulfill their duties if they introduce a four-day work week. A shorter work week is highly beneficial for employees, but the possible delays in projects can bring a high negative outcome to the business in the end.

  • False expectations

A promise of one free day more in four-day workweeks is tempting; however, the results may vary depending on how the company will implement it. Research shows that besides the idea of four-day weeks, employees often work a full 40 hours per week, which means 10 hours a day some people prefer to work more in return for a long weekend.

We can’t forget that doing overtime constantly leads straight to fatigue and job burnout. Employees can be more productive at the beginning of the trial, but slowly they’ll become less focused on their responsibilities, which results in an even higher need to rest.

  • Negative impact on customer satisfaction

Many industries require their employees to be accessible 24/7. Of course, this model assumes shift planning that ensures constant workforce accessibility. Implementing a shorter workweek in such businesses can negatively affect the way customers access the services. Poor customer satisfaction means less money.

  • Inefficient workforce management

However, a 4-day work week, if implemented correctly, is highly appreciated by the employees, managers can cause problems with creating new schedules. 

Sure, productive workers are beneficial for businesses, but a shorter workweek can reduce workload. In the end, taking one day from a five days week may turn out to be a spectacular failure.

Difficulties in creating alternative schedules may also lead to overtime and higher stress level. Employees may struggle with keeping up to date with changes, especially in their free day, of which nobody will like to think about the work in their free day?

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A four-day workweek doesn’t always mean that employees maintain their pay and benefits. Some organizations have reportedly used a four-day week as a cost-saving measure, like Stanley Black and Decker and the Los Angeles Times, which managed to trim 20% from payroll costs for three months.  And short-term trials that demonstrate success with a four-day workweek can differ from long-term outcomes.

A four-day week that requires people to work 10-hour days can be incompatible with wage regulations or prove too grueling for employees, failing to either improve productivity or save the company money. In the 1990s, a number of organizations found this to be the case and went with a 9/80 schedule instead, where people work nine hours Monday through Thursday and eight hours every other Friday in exchange for getting alternate Fridays off.

Indeed, based on the results of a poll conducted in March 2020, Gallup concluded that while individuals working four-day weeks reported lower levels of burnout and higher levels of well-being compared to people working five- or six-day weeks, the percentage of actively disengaged workers was lowest among those who worked five-day weeks.

For employee engagement, the quality of the work experience is more important than the number of days worked. Simply shortening the workweek is not enough to improve employee engagement in a poorly managed organization. Still, workers will place a high value on schedule flexibility, which can lower stress levels and help them manage other aspects of their lives more effectively, allowing them to be more engaged at work. But not with-standing some companies have some strategies they use in a four-day workweek.

What Are the Strategies They Used? 

  • They Prioritize and reevaluate tasks

  • Maintain employee pay

  • Trust workers

  • Solicit regular employee feedback

  • Learn from trial and error

  • More benefits of four work weeks

  • Minimize interruptions and distractions

  • Increase automation

  • Emphasize human creativity

  • Limit work-based social events

  • Reduce and shorten meetings.

How Did Businesses Adopt The 4-Day Workweek and Not Lose Customers In UK? 

They understood the requirements of their customers/clients and strategized accordingly which led to successfully implementing the 4-day workweek. For instance, if a business requires an employee to meet clients quite often, then having a 4-day workweek would require the business to shut down for an extra day. The possible solution for this could be to establish a rotating schedule between employees where they choose which would be their preferred 4th day of the week to work depending on employee position and customer requirements.

Experiment and Test

Changing the entire structure of the workweek cannot be established immediately after an announcement. It needs to be discussed, planned, tested and then implemented in phases to achieve positive results. For instance, businesses could start off the 4-day workweek once every month, and after a few months of testing, evaluate the results and arrive at a conclusion whether they should implement the 4-day workweek in the long run or not. 

Setting an example

The most significant aspect in the 4-day workweek initiative is the example that the management sets. Particularly, in an entrepreneurial business setting, it’s occasionally hard for employees to quit working on the fifth day due to force of habit. It then depends on the managers to establish the pace. 

The Four-Day Workweek in the UK

More than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies, ranging from a local chippy to large financial firms, start working a four-day week from Monday with no loss of pay in the world’s biggest trial of the new working pattern.

The pilot is running for six months and is being organized by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College. The trial is based on the 100:80:100 model – 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity.

Joe O’Connor, chief executive of the not-for-profit group 4 Day Week Global, said the UK was at the crest of the four-day week wave: “As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge.”

Some of the other companies involved provide education, workplace consultancy, housing, skincare, building and construction recruitment services, food and beverages, and digital marketing.

Researchers will work with each participating organization to measure the impact on productivity in the business and the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality. The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple-dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate.

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