What Leaders Need to Know Before Trying a 4-Day Work Week

While there is no easy way to address concerns about how (and how much) we work, research tells us that no matter what we do, taking a holistic, long-term focus on the well-being of the workforce is the best path to both happiness and prosperity. Maybe the answer is a four-day workweek. Or maybe it’s something else. But we must start with an honest appraisal of how productivity and time trade-offs impact the well-being of workers. Before trying a four-day workweek, employers need to be aware of two important factors. First, a reduction in hours must also be accompanied by a revision of or even reduction in workload. Second, time at work could become even more intense and stressful for workers, even if there are productivity benefits to be had.

Despite the gains workers have made through the Covid pandemic in increasing flexibility in where they work, bigger workloads have meant that there is little slack in the system for people to take time out and recover. The effects are obvious. In 2020, 62% of people reported that they had experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the previous three months, and in 2021, 67% of workers reported that stress and burnout had increased since the pandemic.

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