Will 2022 be the year of the 4-day workweek?

For employers, it might sound scary. Extreme, even. But the benefits of a compressed schedule are worth a serious look.

4-day workweek predictions

There’s no shortage of hand-wringing about how to recruit and retain employees right now.

Amid our current landscape, it’s not an exaggeration to say employee engagement is a matter of survival. Go under or stay afloat. And yet, even amid this shocking wave of resignations, many leaders are unwilling to mandate the move that many want: fewer days at work.

It’s true that loads of companies are aggressively upgrading benefits, perks and employee-friendly policies to keep staffers happy on the job. But relatively few have taken the bold step of enshrining the four-day workweek. Some have, with varying results. However, the data shows that adopting a four-day workweek typically doesn’t harm productivity. More often than not, shorter weeks are proving to be an “overwhelming success” for all involved parties.

If your boss needs more persuading, Conscious Culture offers a succinct summary of four-day workweek benefits, which include:

A better work/life balance.

Isn’t this what we’re all after?

Conscious Culture notes that one New Zealand company’s staff reported a 24% upsurge in work/life balance after switching to a four-day week.

Increased productivity—and less burnout.

The piece reports that Microsoft Japan lifted productivity by an astounding 40% after giving employees a four-day workweek.

Easier to recruit and retain employees.

Shrinking hours is not just a smart business move. It’s the right thing to do. Conscious Culture offers a reminder that “reduced working schedules are important for enabling parents, caregivers and those experiencing mental or physical illness to continue to thrive in the workplace.”

Environmental benefits.

One study found that moving to a 32-hour workweek could cut emissions by more than 20%.

So, even if your boss could care less about the environment, imagine the good PR and ESG vibes your company could create with one bold scheduling adjustment!

How to make it happen

Going from 40 hours down to 32—without missing a beat—requires some strategic planning. HBR serves up a six-step framework on how to implement a shortened workweek, which entails:

1. Shifting your mindset. That is, leaders should “shift their mindsets to value actual productivity” rather than just monitoring login sessions or tracking how long butts are in seats.

2. Define your goals and metrics. Before you make any changes, “consider how you will measure the success of the program in relation to the goals you identify.”

3. Communicate internally and externally. Who else needs to know your hours are changing? Be sure to let all key stakeholders know before any changes take effect.

4. Run a pilot program. Set a defined period for a four-day workweek trial, and make notes about what’s working (or not) as you go.

5. Assess the pilot. What worked during your trial period? What obstacles arose? Use this data to determine whether a 32-hour schedule will work moving forward.

6. Scale up—but don’t stop iterating. HBR explains: “Leaders will need to work across the organization to embed new practices into their workplace culture, ensure that people don’t slip into old habits (no emailing on days off!), and remain focused on productivity — not hours worked — as the metric of success.”

Over to you, comms pros. Has your company considered a four-day workweek experiment? If not, why not?


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