• 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

  • Politics

    Gov. Walker to attend Trump inauguration

    by Liz Raines on Jan 18, 20:55

    Gov. Bill Walker will be among the governors in attendance at the presidential inauguration on Friday. The Republican-turned-Independent did not make public his support for candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign. Katie Marquette, spokesperson for Walker, said that as an Independent governor, Walker is committed to working with any presidential administration for the good of […]

  • News

    Bethel police: Napaskiak man dies from injuries sustained in snowmobile crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 18, 20:13

    A Napaskiak man died after a snowmobile crash on Friday morning, Bethel police report. The Bethel Police Department announced the death of 28-year-old James Joekay Jr. in a Facebook post about the crash. BPD and the local fire department responded to a report about the crash around 8:30 a.m., police wrote. They found Joekay with his snowmobile […]

  • Weather

    Temperatures drop to record levels, school canceled

    by Melissa Frey on Jan 18, 20:11

    As temperatures dropped Wednesday, new records were set in Alaska. Most of the Interior dropped to 50 to 60 below zero, including McGrath, which saw some of the coldest temperatures in five years. The official thermometer dropped to 53 degrees below zero, cold enough to cancel school. The principal of the school said 50 below […]

  • Lifestyle

    Providence hospital first in Alaska to install NICU webcams

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jan 18, 19:40

    Parents who’ve had a baby spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital often say how difficult it is to be separated from their child, even for a short period of time. That’s one of the reasons Providence Alaska Medical Center has become the first hospital in the state to install live-streaming […]

  • News

    Maintenance crews dig out thousands of hydrants after snowstorm

    by Heather Hintze on Jan 18, 19:08

    Maintenance crews are digging out thousands of fire hydrants after the weekend snowstorm. Alaska Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) is responsible for clearing about 7,400 hydrants around the Anchorage Bowl. Journeyman Marshall Kennon said he can shovel out up to 50 hydrants a day. That involves clearing a 6-foot diameter around the hydrant, then checking […]

  • Politics

    Watch Live: Gov. Walker gives 2017 State of the State address

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 18, 18:40

      State of the State Address Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Watch live coverage of Gov. Bill Walker’s remarks from the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Video will begin shortly before 7 p.m.) Web stream provided by 360 North/Gavel Alaska.  

  • Sports

    Grades cost 2 UAA Seawolves the rest of the women’s basketball season

    by Dave Leval on Jan 18, 18:23

    The University of Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team is in Seattle. However, two players did not make the trip with the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) leaders who will play at rival Seattle Pacific University Thursday. Their seasons are done. Junior guard Kaitlyn Hurley and junior forward Dominique Thomas have been declared academically ineligible by the […]

  • Grunwald case suspect now faces federal child porn charges

    by Shannon Ballard on Jan 18, 17:00

    Devin Peterson’s long list of child pornography-related charges has grown to include two federal charges. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the 18-year-old is one of the five Valley teens arrested in connection with David Grunwald’s murder. Alaska State Troopers seized Peterson’s phone during that investigation and found a disturbing video that could send […]