Are We Ready for a 4-Day Workweek?

For many years, I suffered from the Sunday Blues.  And no, not in a Miles Davis,  mellow “Some Kind of Blues” way.  My Blues would set in after 3pm on Sunday. This was my internal deadline at the time for the end the weekend.  After 3pm, social interactions were ceased and the process of life management began. Time outside become time spent either behind a computer paying bills or behind a check-out counter getting groceries.  And when Monday morning finally hit, I was already mourning for the weekend that wasn’t long enough.  While 60 hours of rest (Friday at 5pm- Monday 5am) after 40 hours of work may seem gluttonous in some cultures, our culture’s lightning pace, as well as our personal obligations can take a toll on our bodies physically and emotionally. After hybrid workplaces, the next possible office disruption on the horizon is the the end of the 5-day workweek.

Before we can change the 5-day workweek, let’s learn how we got here in the first place.  Did you know that the 5-day workweek has been around for nearly 100 years? A rise of factories during the Industrial Age gave way to constant demand for workers, even children, to work around the clock. Luckily, though the Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in1938, finally limited working hours to 44 hours a week and set the standard for minimum wage to 25 cents an hour.   

Benefits of a Four Day Workweek

During this Great Resignation, people are leaving companies for not only greater pay but better working conditions post-pandemic. After a growing awareness of mental health issues such as burnout at work, it may be time to do something that fosters better health. An extra non-working day per week could free up individuals to take better care of their health, and their family needs. Not to mention, it could also provide space for individuals to pursue activities that foster their passions or develop skills. The downside however, is that an extra day off could also encourage unnecessary spending.

However, employees are NOT the only ones that can benefit from an abbreviated workweek. Employers who can afford to shutter their offices for 3 days in a row can benefit in the following ways. First, a 3 day weekend could bolster employee engagement significantly. That, is employees could show up to work on Mondays more rested, refreshed and productive. Second, employers can save on benefits costs with the assumption that less days of vacation and sick time would need to be offered in the first place.  A third major benefit for corporations is energy savings. If an office building is only occupied 4 days a week, it would requires less electricity, HVAC, internet, and maintenance personnel to keep it running 4 days a week as opposed to. 5 days. Want to know how much? Click on this report from IFMA. 

Implications for Organizations 

Before implementing a major change like that, a lot of considerations need to be made. Some of which are legal.  Does the workweek stay at 40 hours with four 10 hour days or does it become four 8 hour days or four 9 nine hour days? For organization with both non-exempt and exempt employees, there may need to be different options to satisfy legal requirements.  Then, if the number of hours required are less than 40, organizations need to consider if they would lower employee salaries is less work hours are required. Another challenge applies to global corporations: Would their satellite offices have to adopt a similar work schedule if they are in another city or country? And finally, some institutions, like schools, would need to consider if the 4 day workweek would affect their teaching schedules.

Of course, the reality is that an organization would have to be able afford being closed an extra day without profit loss.  Now, many types of organizations such as hospitals, police, and fire departments are open 24×7, where workers work in 3 or 4 day 12-hour shifts.  If it can be done in situations where people’s lives are at stake, why can’t it be done in less risky environments? 

Is it Possible? 

The short answer is yes.  Like working from home, employees and employers can learn to adapt to new ways of working. However, some mindset shifts are necessary. For employees, they need to be able to manage their time differently. For some, it might mean learning how to get more done per day than they did before.  Or it might mean, learning to set a timeline for work each day as a 10 hour workday could easily bleed into a 12 hour workday. For organizations, they need to consider how a work schedule change could affect their business model and existing customers.  Would certain sectors need to be open Tuesday through Saturday instead of Monday to Thursday? 

How to Start

Here are three steps employers can take to try out a four-day workweek:

  1. To get this one step closer to reality, employers should do a feasibility study and look at existing data (if it exists) on the business as well as employee productivity and engagement. Offering employees a choice of a few different options other than a shortened workweek will allow companies to see if this is a benefit employees actually want.
  2. Test it with a sample population for 3-4 months over multiple scenarios (i.e., Summer thing, or Tuesday-Friday workweek). By prototyping the scenario with a sample, a company can learn how  such a change would affect the system as a whole. If it causes more trouble than it’s worth, the answer becomes evident quickly. 
  3.  If the prototype work schedule does seem to work and engage people more, organizations should design a new company policy.

If it still seems too uncertain to try the first three steps at your own organization, employers can also talk to companies who have implemented a 4-day workweek already.

And if a 4-day workweek is out of the cards completely for your organization, think about these alternatives:  a 2-hour lunch break, (unpaid or paid), akin to a siesta, or a half-day off each week or every other week, or offering sleep pods in offices to promote rest breaks and ultimately, greater productivity.


About Danielle

Danielle is a change management leader passionate about creating resilient, human-centered workplaces and learning communities by constantly asking, “What for?” “What If?” and, “Why not?” and “What else?”

She believes a company is only as good as its talent. She is driven to understand what makes people thrive at work and ensure organizations remain relevant and resilient in an uncertain future.

She challenges conventional thinking, conducts calculated experiments, and embraces vulnerability at work.

She partners, coaches, and consults with business and HR leaders on how to intentionally create and cultivate spaces for alignment, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation.

She gravitates toward small to midsize progressive organizations who embrace innovation and change, believe their talent has unbound potential, and are committed to sustainable and life-generating practices to support the greater eco-system.


We have been able to get a successful training program off the ground, and more
importantly, one that can be replicated as we continue to grow and put our field through it. This has resulted in more engagement across many levels of the organization, and more buy-in from the sales team that our field is being trained

Kristen H.

CFO, Kaloutas, Inc.


Danielle has an unbiased view and has an extensive background in the field of HR. She isn’t just Human Resources, she is also a life coach. She has helped me find a way to outsource help in order for me to focus on being a better leader in my firm as well as maintain balance.

Alicia C.

Principal, AJC Design


Danielle has contributed immensely not only to the success of the Human Resources Department here at Harbor House Collective but also to my own personal growth as a Human Resources professional. Her wisdom and guidance have been invaluable and have contributed to the development and transformation of the H.R. strategy.

Rich A.

HR Generalist, Harbor House Collective


Take the next step!

Let’s discuss how to make the shift for
your organization or for yourself.

Send us email

Follow us on LinkedIn