• 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

    Barrow’s new Inupiat name challenged in court

    by Rachel D'Oro / AP on Dec 02, 14:46

    On paper, the new Inupiat Eskimo name of the nation’s northernmost town is now official. But not so fast. The reality is not so simple. The town was known as Barrow until Thursday, when the new name, Utqiaġvik, became effective, less than two months after voters approved the change with a six-vote majority of voters. […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Conway Seavey

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 02, 14:39

    Conway Seavey and his band have a busy December ahead of them. They’re performing at the KTVA New Year’s Eve Celebration, releasing a new single on Christmas day and providing the backing band for The Stars We Are competition at Williwaw. The winner of that competition will play alongside the Conway Seavey Band on Dec. […]

  • Lifestyle

    4 new elements on the periodic table now have names

    by Brian Mastroianni / CBS News on Dec 02, 14:36

    It’s now time to say hello, officially, to the four new additions to the Periodic Table of Elements. This week, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the names of the four new elements, whose existence was first confirmed to the public back in January. The names for elements 113, 115, 117, and […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: UAA University Singers

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 02, 13:19

    Getting ready for their winter concert, the University Singers from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) stopped by Daybreak Friday Dec. 2 for a Mic Check in the Morning. The concert is Saturday, Dec. 3 at the UAA Recital Hall. Tickets can be purchased at UAAtix.com. The ensemble often collaborates with other music organizations, such […]

  • Anchorage sisters spreading holiday cheer with elf-grams

    by Sierra Starks on Dec 02, 12:47

    Two Anchorage sisters have dubbed themselves Santa’s little helpers this season. Morgan and Mia Grace Stratton have been delivering joy to the masses through elf-grams — song-and-dance routines — the two are serving up as a fundraiser. The idea was the brainchild of their mother, Jennifer Stratton, inspired by the movie “Elf” with Will Ferrell. […]

  • Man who stabbed Fred Meyer employee indicted on assault, robbery charges

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 02, 12:20

    A 31-year-old Anchorage man who stabbed a security guard at the Midtown Fred Meyer was indicted by a grand jury on assault and robbery charges Thursday, according to a Friday release from the District Attorney’s Office. The criminal complaint states Steven Treadway was approached by a Fred Meyer loss prevention officer on Nov. 20 because the […]

  • Teen convicted of shooting former radio host over vape charger

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 12:18

    An 18-year-old Anchorage man who told police he killed his foster father because he took away a vapor cigarette charger has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. State prosecutors say Peter Henry pleaded guilty Friday to killing 64-year-old Marvell Johnson on Oct. 7, 2014. Henry was 16 when Johnson died. A plea agreement calls for a […]

  • DayBreak

    Daybreak Adopt-a-Pet for Dec. 2, 2016

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 02, 12:00

    From Anchorage Animal Care and Control: Louie, Huey and Dewey: These young brothers are a little shy of people, but with gentle and patient handling, they’ll grow into fun little companions. Bun Bun and Bane: Two charming rabbits are looking for homes. Bun Bun has lived with a rabbit-friendly dog and cat before and enjoyed […]