The Ugly Truth of the 4-Day Work Week

In many aspects, the four-day workweek sounds glamorous: less time spent online or in the office; more time spent on personal activities; three-day weekends every week; a better work-life balance.

Workers in Iceland who took on a four-day workweek reported better work-life balance and even a more positive attitude at work. Workers in New Zealand with a four-day workweek were 20% more productive than when they worked a full-day workweek.

While the four-day workweek has gotten some buzz because of these positive effects, not everyone’s buzzed about the idea of bringing it to their work life. Many workers worry — reasonably — about time and productivity.

To them, a four-day workweek sounds more like 40 hours or more condensed into four days, and those days are filled with overwork, struggles to meet deadlines, and even more stress.

Adopting a four-day workweek isn’t as easy as giving your team Fridays off. Like how many managers and employees worked hard to adjust to remote work — and how many still are adjusting — the four-day workweek also requires a lot of effort and adjustment.

It’s not just a schedule shift; it’s a cultural one. It requires reassessing meetings, workflows, deadlines, and team communication. It means analyzing resources, employee productivity, and engagement.

“The conversation has been less about ‘should we continue?’ but rather ‘how do we make this work for us?’” Hailley Griffis, Buffer’s head of public relations, said to CNBC Make It.

The ugly truth of the four-day workweek isn’t the workweek itself. It’s the work required to make it work — and not everybody’s ready or willing to do it.

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