“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” the saying goes.
With 78 percent of American men and 67 percent of American women working more than 40 hours per week, achieving a healthy work/life balance seems more like a distant dream than a reality. A healthier, more productive life may lie in a shorter workweek. The four-day workweek has been a fantasy for many since labor union leader Walter Reuther introduced it in the 1950s.
Although a four-day workweek might seem counterintuitive to companies looking to bolster productivity and increase revenue, it has proven a boon for a few brave companies.
Take, for example, the Midwest web development company, Reusser Design. Since implementing a four-day workweek in 2013 , it has experienced increased productivity and employee engagement. According to Reusser’s CEO, the policy motivates employees to work harder. When you have less hours to work, you simply have to be more productive when you are working, just as people hustle to finish projects before they go on vacation.
The technology education company Treehouse has also experience great results from embracing a shorter workweek. CEO Ryan Carson says the four-day workweek, instituted in 2006, has made his employees happier and more productive.
The benefits of a shorter workweek go beyond improving morale and productivity. A shorter workweek can save companies money, because the extra day off saves on resources that were normally used to heat, cool and power the building. With companies in the U.S. spending over $38 billion a year on electricity consumption, cutting down on utility bills would benefit both company budgets and the environment.
Consider, too, the dreaded daily commute. Working only four days a week not only means two fewer trips between home and work. Working four longer workdays rather than five shorter ones means that on the days you do have to drive to work, you won’t have to deal with rush-hour traffic on the way home, because you leave the office after the worst traffic has subsided.
Though the shorter workweek might remain a dream for many, we are moving toward better work/life balances and healthier workplace practices. As companies adopt flexible hours and telecommuting, we are moving away from the work culture fraught with overwork and burnout toward a positive work culture benefiting employees and employers alike.
Chelsea Mize is a writer and content creator. A version of this post first appeared on PGi’s Collaborative Exchange.