The Truth About A Four-Day Work Week

For many, it's hard to imagine a workweek that doesn't take place from Monday through Friday. Millions of people across the world have built their schedules around the Monday through Friday workweek for decades. However, as the pandemic continues to shift the American people's relationship with work, many are beginning to reevaluate ways in which they can pursue a more sustainable work-life balance.

As it turns out, the idea of a five-day workweek was created as early as the 1860s, with many workers rights groups in America attempting to pass legislation to create the eight-hour workday. In 1938, Congress amended the previously passed Fair Labor Standards Act to limit the workweek to only 40 hours per week — thus creating the Monday through Friday, five-day work week that many are familiar with today, according to Business Insider.

Despite the passage of this legislation, many workers are still working more than 40 hours per week. According to a Gallup survey published in 2014, the average salaried worked clocked a total of 49 hours per week. What's more, a whopping 25 percent of those polled claimed to work more than 60 hours per week. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Vox reports that workers are still clocking more than 40 hours per week. Now that many are either working from home or doing a hybrid that includes in-office and at-home work, they feel as though achieving a work-life balance is impossible.

A four-hour workweek might be in your future

In the past decade, companies and countries around the world have begun to reevaluate the five-day workweek. In 2015 and 2019, more than 2,500 Icelandic workers participated in a study in which they worked a four-day workweek rather than the typical five-day workweek. As Vox reported, the results showed that employees involved in the studies reported feeling less stress and a better work-life balance, while employers involved reported that the productivity of these employees remained the same or actually increased during the studies. The results of these studies led many other countries around the world, like New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain to consider mandating a four-day workweek. According to The Guardian, even several American companies, like Bolt, Panasonic, and Kickstarter are adopting the four-day workweek. Microsoft, which offers a four-day workweek for its employees in Japan, reports that the four-day workweek has increased productivity by an impressive 40 percent.

Though many tout the benefits of adopting a four-day workweek in place of a five-day workweek, the United States government has yet to introduce any legislation to create a four-day workweek in America. However, this soon might change as more is done to promote workers rights. As Vox reported, the combination of the Great Resignation, which has seen millions of Americans quit their jobs in the past year, and the recent push for workers rights that has increased the minimum wage in many states, could lead to further workplace reform in the near future.