Shorter Workweek Benefits and Drawbacks

This is a free excerpt from one of Shortform’s Articles. We give you all the important information you need to know about current events and more.

Don't miss out on the whole story. Sign up for a free trial here .

What are the benefits of a shorter workweek? Why are there also drawbacks?

The push to reduce work schedules gathered momentum during the pandemic, which forced employers to become more flexible about working arrangements and led many workers to reflect on unhealthy work cultures. However, workers and businesses are still trying to evaluate the viability of a shorter workweek.

Read on for an overview of shorter workweek benefits as well as the drawbacks to reducing working hours.

How Shorter Workweeks Are Being Used

When implementing a shorter workweek, the benefits and drawbacks can be difficult to disentangle, as a benefit to one party often comes at a cost to another. The pros and cons also depend on the type of shorter workweek and how it’s implemented.

For example, four-day workweeks have been piloted at a range of private companies and even by a few state and national governments. But it can be difficult to compare these pilots because they’ve all been implemented in slightly different ways. The main differences are in the type of four-day week and in the strategies used to squeeze a workweek into four days.

There are two broad types of four-day workweek: the compressed schedule and the reduced schedule. People on a compressed schedule work the same 40 hours per week, but in four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. Examples of compressed schedules include Shake Shack’s 2021 trial for managers and the Utah state government’s year-long pilot, which began in 2008. 

People on a reduced schedule work fewer hours with no reduction in pay. This might amount to a 4.5-day week, as with the United Arab Emirates government, or it might be an even shorter 32-hour week (four eight-hour days). Examples of 32-hour week pilots include software company Wildbit, which implemented a four-day week in 2017, and the UK national trial that’s currently in progress. In the UK model, participating employees make a commitment to follow the 100:80:100 model (100% of the salary for 80% of the time while maintaining 100% of the productivity of a five-day week). 

Even within these broad categories, there’s a lot of variation in how people make them work. For example, the time-saving strategies of workers on reduced schedules might include reducing lunch hours, automating repetitive tasks, capping meeting length and attendance, designating meeting-free days, and setting aside dedicated quiet time for deep work.

We’ll look at the shorter workweek benefits and drawbacks separately for workers and businesses.

Benefits & Drawbacks for Workers

We usually think of workers as the main potential beneficiaries of a shorter workweek. But what do we actually know about how four-day working weeks affect workers? Here are the pros and cons we know about so far:

Benefits of a Shorter Workweek

Drawbacks of a Shorter Workweek

Benefits & Drawbacks for Businesses

Businesses may not benefit as much as employees from shortening the workweek. After all, in most cases, they’re paying the same for fewer hours of work. But are four-day working weeks really that onerous for businesses?

Here are the pros and cons for businesses:

Benefits of a Shorter Workweek

Drawbacks of a Shorter Workweek

Shorter Workweek Benefits and Drawbacks

Want to fast-track your learning? With Shortform, you’ll gain insights you won't find anywhere else .

Here's what you’ll get when you sign up for Shortform :

  • Complicated ideas explained in simple and concise ways
  • Smart analysis that connects what you’re reading to other key concepts
  • Writing with zero fluff because we know how important your time is

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.