The ‘norm’ for working is in flux. New evidence favors a four-day week.

Two years ago, we made note of a study from Iceland that found employers were happier, and still productive, working a four-day work week. Now, another major study from the United Kingdom reinforced the value of a shorter work week.

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Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-California reintroduced the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act in Congress. A four-day work week “allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work,” Takano said of the legislation, which is co-sponsored by two others, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Il. 

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., reintroduced the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act in Congress. The legislation is co-sponsored by two others, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

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There may not be enough support in Congress to pass a bill to shorten the workweek by a day. But after U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, reintroduced the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act earlier this month, it is clear that working fewer hours remains on the minds of many Americans.

A four-day workweek “allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work,” Takano said of the legislation, which is co-sponsored by two others, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Workers are not the only ones who benefit from putting in fewer hours while getting paid the same. Skeptical employers should take note: Productivity levels mostly stayed the same and in some cases, actually improved under a four-day workweek, a 2021 study from Iceland revealed.

Editorial

Editorial

We wrote about that report back then, encouraging American companies to rethink how much time employees are put on the clock.

Two years later, results from yet another major study from the U.K. has reinforced the value of a shorter workweek.

So positive was the outcome of the recent six-month study, 56 of the 61 of companies that participated said they’re sticking with the four-day week.

Working less translated into less burnout for 71% of the 2,900 participants, while 39% felt less stressed and 48% were more satisfied with their job.

Many employees were sleeping better and reported that their mental and physical health and a sense of work-life balance improved.

Fewer people quit or called in sick, and men ended up watching after children more when they were required to work fewer days.

And no, revenue did not take a hit, according to the study conducted by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, along with researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and the think tank Autonomy.

Traditional American work standards went out the window during the height of the pandemic. While some workers are back in the office, many people are still working remotely. Others are opting for a middle road with a hybrid approach. There is no single “new normal.”

A four-day workweek may not be an option for some businesses, or at least not for all of their employees. But for companies that can manage it, now might be an opportune time to start considering different ways to restructure — for everyone’s benefit — how we are expected to work.

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