Libby McCaughey
almost 3 years ago by Libby McCaughey

Could working a 4-day week make you a better employee?

Work Life Balance

42.3 hours per week, that’s what the average Brit works. Meaning we have a longer working week than anyone else in the European Union! Our extended hours and work addictions are leaving us less time to exercise, spend quality time with our families or even to cook a meal. So, is the 9-to-5 approach still ideal for workers?

Working long hours is bad for our health. Period.  A recent study has shown that putting in overtime increased rates of illness, injury stress and even death, not to mention weight gain and increased alcohol use and smoking. 

A finance firm in New Zealand (Perpetual Guardian) made headlines last year as they experimented letting their employees work a four-day week instead of the traditional five-day week. Perpetual Guardian found the change actually boosted productivity among its 240 employees by 20%, and it was such a success that they made the shorter week a permanent option!

Not only did it increase the productivity of workers it also made them feel happier, seeing a 7% decrease in their stress levels! Employees also, showed a 24% improvement in their work-life balance. 

Company founder, Andrew Barnes said, “the right attitude is a requirement to make it work – everyone has to be committed and take it seriously for us to create a viable long-term model for our business.” 

Researchers also said a shorter workweek helped to motivate employees to find ways of increasing their productivity while in the office; for example, cutting meetings down to 30 minutes from 2 hours and telling employees when they are being a distraction. For more tips please visit – crazy busy.

Overall, employees collectively agreed that working less actually produces more. With around three in four (78%) full-time workers saying they’d be able to complete their work in under seven-hours if uninterrupted, while almost half (45%) think they could wrap things up in just five hours or less (according to a global survey). 

According to the same survey the top five “time-suckers” were; tasks unrelated to their core job (86%), fixing a problem not caused by them (22%), general admin work (17%), meetings (12%), emails (11%) and customer issues (11%). Would you agree? If you were able to work free of these distractions would you personally benefit from working a four-day week?

This concept of a reduced working week is by no means a new concept. The Swedish government has previously trialed a mandated four-day week in Gothenburg, with officials finding that employees completed the same amount of work or even more. 

So, if there is much evidence to support the positive effects of reduced working hours why isn’t there more companies participating? Would you support your business or the business you work for if they decided to trial a four-day week?

I think the concept is something that in theory and in practice seems to work well but in our culture of always being on or connected would this encourage people to work even more hours, even with the extra day off.