Although the concept of every U.S. employer adopting a four-day workweek may seem impossible now, the pandemic has proven that precedent is unreliable, and flexibility is vital to workers. That's why a new pilot program in the U.S. has been recruiting employers to try out a four-day week for six months in 2022, from April to September.
Run by the 4 Day Week Global Foundation, the program will provide resources to help employers with the transition and assess the results. Other countries are also participating in the coordinated effort, including Ireland, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand — and other regions are on the way, according to the foundation.
Before we know it, the five-day week could be a taboo, distant memory. To learn more about the benefits of the coveted shorter week, NBCLX went straight to the source and asked employees about their experiences.
Austin Schofield, Marina Success Manager at The Wanderlust Group
The Wanderlust Group is an outdoor travel technology company that strives to get people out in nature as much as possible. With that philosophy in mind, the company switched its entire staff to a four-day workweek in 2020. Austin Schofield has worked at The Wanderlust Group since 2018 and said the transition to a shorter workweek was a smooth and positive one. “A lot of people think that a four-day week means working a week’s worth of hours in four days, but that’s not the case. It’s four normal working days, and it’s amazing,” he explained to LX. The benefits of his new schedule, he claimed, are endless.
“Our revenue has grown by 100%, we’ve maintained high customer satisfaction, and our employee satisfaction has skyrocketed. I’m more efficient with my time, and there’s a lot less burnout. We’re really able to prioritize mental health and spend time doing what we love outside of work,” he said.
The shorter week encourages employees to plan work around their lives outside the office instead of the reverse, and it's been a game changer for employee retention. Schofield spends his extra day in nature, boating, fishing or volunteering with environmental conservation groups.
Now that Schofield's had a taste of the freedom afforded by the four-day work week, he can’t imagine reverting to the antiquated model. “You work to fund the life you want to live, but if you have no time to live it, then what’s the point?" he said.
Meghan Smith, Marketing Executive at Awin
Awin, a global affiliate marketing network, began its transition to a shorter workweek in January 2021. Meghan Smith has been working at Awin for more than three years and is thrilled her company made the shift. “It shows that the company values our quality of life both in and out of the workplace, which means a lot to the employees," she told NBCLX.
“You have less time to get the same amount of work done, so it forces you to be conscious of your time, remain organized and stay in communication with your team. There’s a lot less sitting around,” she said, adding that the consistent three-day weekend makes her feel more eager to tackle her work when the week starts.
Despite working one fewer day a week, Awin employees receive the same pay and benefits. Rather than having the whole company take off the same day every week, each department determines which day employees take off to ensure things don't fall through the cracks.
“The four-day week has been incredibly beneficial, and I really see no cons in it," Smith said. "I have time to get my errands done, go to the gym, and volunteer with the organ transplant community, which I’m very passionate about. By the time I get back to work, I’m in a much better headspace."
Matt Greenwald, Program Manager at Bolt
Although Matt Greenwald has only been at Bolt, a commerce technology company, for less than six months, he has nothing but positive things to say about his experience. His appreciation for Bolt was emboldened by its decision to move to the four-day workweek. "The moment we got the news that it was happening, I was so excited. To be at a company that’s willing to try this and break the norms is great. They really trust us and value our mental health,” Greenwald told LX.
“The concept of a 40-hour workweek is outdated," he continued. "We shouldn’t be focused on sitting in a cubicle five days a week. We should be focused on performance, output, collaboration and results."
Bolt has been collecting data over the course of the transition to show the impact on employees. Their numbers indicate that employees' mental health has improved, and 86% of staff is more efficient with their time.
If you're looking for a new job, Greenwald encourages you to ask if the companies you're considering are open to a four-day workweek. If you’re currently employed, he suggests talking to your boss about it.
“You should hold your executives accountable to be more progressive,” he said.
As more companies make the plunge into the flexible work schedule, these conversations may become more common.