• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 34s

Could we benefit from a four-day workweek?

By Kim Peterson / MoneyWatch 10:44 AM July 10, 2014

Why don’t more bosses implement a four-day workweek?

Doctors, executives and human resource experts say it would be great for the American workforce. People would have more time to see the dentist, hang out with their children and get errands done. Workers would be happier, and morale would improve.

Instead, much of America is still on a five-day week, with just two precious days on the weekend.

Google (GOOG) boss Larry Page praised the idea of a reduced workweek at a business summit last week. “The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true,” he said. People need to feel busy and productive, he said, but they don’t need to work so much to get there.

“Most people like working, but they’d also like to have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests,” Page added. “So that would be one way to deal with the problem, is if you had a coordinated way to just reduce the workweek.”

The merits of a four-day workweek have been proven repeatedly. Software company 37signals switches to a four-day workweek from May through October, and only asks employees to work 32 hours a week during that time. CEO Jason Fried wrote in The New York Times that employees get more productive during those months.

“When there’s less time to work, you waste less time,” Fried wrote in an op-ed. “When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”

Utah experimented with a four-day workweek for state workers, but switched back to a traditional week in 2011. Employees loved the four-day stretches, and spent their days off volunteering or working second jobs, The Associated Pressreports. Employees had fewer conflicts with work and home and saved money on gas. There was just one problem: Residents complained because some state services weren’t available on Fridays.

Market research firm Slingshot SEO has a four-day workweek, with employees clocking 10-hour days. “Your employee retention rate literally soars,” wrote CEO Jay Love on Inc.com. “Who would ever want to give up three days at home, only commuting four days a week.”

British doctors have recommended that the U.K. switch to a four-day week, saying it would help fight high blood pressure and mental health problems in the workforce. “The lunch hour has gone, people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” public health professor John Ashton told The Daily Mail.

There are some drawbacks to that kind of schedule, however. Ideally, the entire company should be on the same four-day week, or some employees may feel like they are missing out, CNN.com reports. One Denver attorney told the site that when she took a day off during the week, she felt like her stature at work diminished. “I became convinced that once out of sight, I was out of mind,” she said.

Also, some workers may find it exhausting to pull a 10-hour shift four days in a row. That’s a lot to ask, even for the reward of a three-day weekend.

Finally, some executives feel like they can’t miss out on one day of business. They fear many emails and voicemail messages go unanswered. The rest of the business world isn’t stopping, and customers and partners could get irritated at the lack of response.

So could America ever get on a path to a four-day workweek? Until company bosses become convinced of any real benefits, the chances are slim. “Often, it isn’t that employers don’t want to offer four-day workweeks, it’s that they’re not sure what’s in it for them,” workplace expert Lisa Horn told Next Avenue.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • News

    East Anchorage trailer park development project put on hold

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 26, 18:13

    A project to turn an East Anchorage trailer park into upscale housing has been put on hold. Phase one of the project at the Riviera Terrace Mobile Home Park off of Boniface Parkway was supposed to start this summer. But owner and developer Cameron Johnson says contamination from an old heating fuel spill is worse […]

  • Crime

    UPDATE: Police release video in May 17 Fairbanks homicide

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 17:18

    Updated May 26, 5:15 p.m. Fairbanks police have released video from the May 17 homicide of John D. Kavairlook, Jr. FPD is seeking the public’s help in identifying the three men shown in the video below — sought in connection with the events surrounding Kavairlook’s death. Anyone who can identify the individuals in the video is asked […]

  • Crime

    Fairbanks man arrested for trying to set occupied home on fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 14:45

    A 52-year-old man was arrested on assault and attempted arson charges after he tried to set an occupied home on fire early Monday morning, authorities say. Around 4 a.m. Monday, Alaska State Troopers received a 911 call ”reporting an individual pouring gasoline around an occupied structure,” an online dispatch says. The home is located off Chena […]

  • News

    AST: Human remains recovered believed to be missing Kotlik child

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 11:31

    Human remains found in a large, water-filled hole in the village of Kotlik Sunday are believed to be those of a 4-year-old child who went missing last year, authorities say. Last May, the Kotlik Police Department notified Alaska State Troopers in Emmonak that a 4-year-old boy in the village had not returned home after playing […]

  • News

    Wildfire officials monitor fire burning near Eagle

    by Associated Press on May 26, 8:49

    Alaska fire officials are monitoring a wildfire that was ignited over the holiday weekend by lighting. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports the Seventy Mile Fire began Sunday and by Tuesday had burned 1,250 acres, or just under two square miles, near Eagle. The coordination center says the fire is moving northwest away from Eagle […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, May 26

    by Brett Shepard on May 26, 8:14

    Southcentral A beautiful day in store for us with partly cloudy skies. Southeast Skies will be mostly to partly cloudy today. Interior Mostly to partly sunny skies. North Slope Mostly to partly cloudy skies. West Mostly cloudy to the south with partly cloudy skies to the north. Southwest Cloudy skies for most of the region […]

  • News

    Wood bison bulls take barge to meet transplanted herd

    by Associated Press on May 26, 7:52

    Sixteen wood bison bulls are traveling by barge to join a herd established this spring near the western Interior village of Shageluk. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1LCgJiK) bulls from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage were loaded Saturday onto a barge headed down the Tanana and Yukon rivers in the final phase of […]

  • Contests

    Photo Caption Contest – May 26

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 7:00

    Alaska… From wildlife to landscapes, cities to villages, this state provides photo ops that you won’t find anywhere else. So, what happens after you take that incredible shot? If you post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you inevitably need to caption it — or let someone else do it for you. That’s exactly what […]