HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Nearly 100 years ago, a Labor Movement brought Americans to a five-day workweek. Now, another movement is underway to make the work week even shorter.
IS THE IDEA OF A FOUR-DAY WORKWEEK TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
During the Labor Movement, unions and workers pushed for shorter hours and fewer work days. In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which basically made the five-day, 40-hour workweek standard.
Once again, there’s a movement to change this. Some believe workers should spend 32 hours on the job for only four days a week. The idea of spending fewer days on the job sounds almost too good to be true.
“I think everybody should work four days anyways,” employee Bre Mcgill said. “Monday through Thursday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday is the weekend. We need a three-day weekend.”
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“I just think a lot of these days we just focus more on work,” employee Isabele Patton said. “Work, work, work, and trying to pay bills and everything is getting more expensive. Having that extra day allows more time with family.”
SOME COMPANIES HAVE SWITCHED TO FOUR-DAY WORKWEEKS. HOW’S IT GOING?
For some employees, it’s not a dream but a reality. Swash Labs founder Josh Berthume made the switch nearly two years ago.
“Starting in January 2022, we decided to go to a full four-day work week, with no reduction in pay or benefits,” Berthume recalled.
The advertising company based in Texas found letting workers have an extra day off wasn’t a loss in revenue. Instead, the past two years have been the company’s best.
“Once you start living this kind of life and working this sort of way, it’s incredibly difficult to go back, and there’s not really a strong case for doing so because everyone is more productive and healthier and happier and better rested,” Berthume explained.
PILOT PROGRAM SHOWS BIG BOOSTS TO BUSINESSES FROM FOUR-DAY WORKWEEK
Swash Labs isn’t alone. A recent study by 4 Day Week Global studied 41 U.S. and Canadian companies that went to four-day work weeks.
It discovered nearly all participants liked the extra day off; 70% felt less burned out, and 40% felt less stressed.
In the end, all businesses continued with the four-day workweek. Findings didn’t surprise Shock Your Potential CEO Michael Sherlock, who says remote work during the pandemic showed that shorter work weeks are possible.
“As we see the evaluation of people working from home Mondays and Fridays, and in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you’re already seeing the model for how we can adapt in many different situations,” Sherlock explained.
WHEN COULD THE FOUR-DAY WORKWEEK BE COMING TO MORE WORKPLACES?
While some employers are making the shift, Sherlock said it’s too early to tell if it makes sense.
“Most good studies are very large-scale studies with a lot of data points in them over a long period of time,” Sherlock explained. “We don’t have a lot of good long-term data on this.”
However, Sherlock said a four-day workweek may be coming sooner than you think.
“Do I think in my lifetime I’m going to see a vast majority of companies doing that? Yes, I do,” Sherlock said. “That’s because we’re going to see people learn how to operate differently. Also, the world is changing.”
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IF YOU WANT A SHORTER WORKWEEK, HERE’S WHAT EXPERTS SAID YOU SHOULD DO
If you’re interested in your employer doing this, Sherlock said, talk with your boss. Don’t just say you want the extra day off.
Instead, explain why this would be beneficial.
“If you want to bring that conversation up, for instance, don’t just have that conversation,” Sherlock explained. “Sit down yourself individually, and write it out. Write out answers to those questions. What could this mean to the workplace? What could this mean for better outcomes for the company?”
Discussions Swash Labs had a few years ago. A strategy of paying for less work is actually allowing them to earn even more.
“I think it’s reflective of the future of work,” Berthume said. “I don’t have any plans for going back.”
It is an idea that is too good to be true and could soon spread to more workers.