The Allure Of A Four-day Workweek

Katie Young
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Wednesday - July 16, 2008

I’ve always envied people who had a four-day workweek. I didn’t have that many friends who had such a schedule, but those who did have an extra day off a week seemed happier and less stressed.

My friend Joey worked a job where he was needed in the office only four days a week. The trade-off was that Joey had to work 10-hour days instead of eight-hour days, but he always had a three-day weekend.

I’d imagine what I would do if I had three days in a row off every week. I could go on trips, get my errands done while everyone else was at work and not have to fight traffic or waste gas five days a week. It sounded like a good deal. I decided it might be OK to work longer hours on one day just to have that extra day off.

Another friend, Ella, negotiated a four-day workweek with her company so she could spend more time with her young son. While her pay was slightly reduced, this one day of extra time with her son in the middle of the week helped alleviate Ella’s pangs of separation anxiety.

Before her new scheduling change, Ella spent hours at work thinking about how much she missed her son and wished she could be with him. She felt like she was missing out on his monumental growing moments, but she also knew she couldn’t afford to not work at all. For Ella, the four-day workweek meant peace of mind and family fulfillment.

According to an article in USA Today, this summer Utah will become the first state to institute a mandatory four-day workweek for most state employees, joining local governments across the nation that are altering schedules to save money, energy and resources.

With the new workweek in place, residents will have longer business hours to access state offices and more than 800 state services available to them online.

The article quotes Rex Facer, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University, whose research team is studying the four-day workweek concept. Facer says he expects more cities to begin shutting offices on Fridays because of increasing pressures faced by Americans paying record-high gas prices.

The four-day work week is appealing to organizations because it often saves a company money and helps it reduce energy costs associated with operating the business five days a week.

It’s appealing to workers because, for many, it improves their quality of life. We all know that finding that perfect balance between work, family and personal time can be almost unattainable with the demands of a typical career. Many of us take work home - either physically or mentally - making it so the time we spend at home with our families isn’t always the quality time we’d like to be spending with them.

So what do you think? Would you prefer to have a four-day workweek? Would you be willing to work longer hours four days a week just to have an extra day off? Would you be willing to take a reduction in your paycheck for that added flexibility?

Who says you have to work 40 or more hours five days a week to be a good employee or run a successful business? In fact, many argue that decreasing the stress associated with work and time away from family will reduce employee absenteeism and improve productivity.

One company experimented with a four-day workweek and found that having a three-day weekend meant people came back extra refreshed on Monday, they felt happier to be at the office and worked harder and more efficiently during the shorter work-week.

It’s amazing, I suppose, how much of a difference just one day can make for everyone involved. I’d guess, for most of us, we want to put our best foot forward at work but still not feel burnt out by the end of the week and have the energy to enjoy our time off.

It seems there are reasons across the board for why a four-day workweek could alleviate many problems both organizations and employees are facing today. Some local companies already offer this option to their employees. Now, some positions might allow for this, and certain companies may be able to achieve this four-day workweek easier than others. But I say it’s certainly worth a try!

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