• 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

  • Crime

    Friend remembers Brandon Merritt, 19-year-old killed in gas station shooting

    by Eric Ruble on May 29, 20:17

    Brandon Merritt had been in Alaska less than one month when he was shot and killed at a Holiday gas station on Abbott Road last week. He grew up here before moving to Hawai’i for his freshman year at Campbell High School in ‘Ewa Beach, where he met Sam Lewis. “Ever since the day we […]

  • News

    AFD calls Div. of Forestry, JBER for assistance with wildfire near East Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 18:01

    The Anchorage Fire Department is responding to a wildfire just less than a mile from an East Anchorage neighborhood. The fire was first reported at 5:25 p.m., according to fire dispatchers. AFD Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc said the fire was located on military land and was difficult to reach, so the department has reached out […]

  • News

    Dead whale found stuck on cruise ship docking in Seward

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 17:26

    A dead humpback whale was found on the bow of a Holland America cruise ship Sunday morning in Seward. The Seward City News reported the Zaandam arrived at the Alaska Railroad terminal with what was initially believed to be juvenile humpback whale on the bulbous, lower bow. The whale has since been tentatively identified as […]

  • News

    DOF battles two wildfires near McGrath, one covers roughly 100 acres

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 17:05

    The Alaska Division of Forestry is battling two wildfires near McGrath, including one that has grown to nearly 100 acres. The larger fire, known as the Medfra fire, was reported at 10:25 a.m. and “started in an old burn area and spread into an unburned area with fresh fuel.” The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports […]

  • News

    Firefighter: Grass fire at Glenn Highway ramp may have been started by cigarette

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 15:20

    An Anchorage firefighter at the scene of a small grass fire near the Glenn Highway Sunday told KTVA it may have been started by a cigarette butt thrown out of a passing vehicle. The fire was first reported to the fire department at 2:25 p.m., according to fire dispatchers. The fire was out less than […]

  • News

    Missing girl may be with her mother, who has no legal custody

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 14:53

    The Anchorage Police Department is searching for an 8-year-old girl whose mother has warrants for her arrest and doesn’t have legal custody of the girl. Nayla Demings was last seen at her father’s house on E Fifth Avenue around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. Her father has full legal custody of Nayla and police said in […]

  • News

    Park Service considers visitor caps, expects record crowds

    by Associated Press on May 29, 14:15

    As the National Park Service kicks off a centennial summer expected to draw record crowds, the agency is seriously considering caps on how many people pass through some of the country’s most iconic landscapes and historical sites each day. Park managers have begun looking at whether, when and how best to manage the impact of […]

  • News

    Czech Republic man dies on Denali after 1,500-foot fall

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 12:02

    A Czech Republic man died Saturday evening while skiing on Denali, according to the National Park Service. Pavel Michut, 45, “fell roughly 1,500 feet from an elevation of 17,000 feet” on the Messner Couloir route, NPS spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri said in a statement Sunday. “The event was witnessed by multiple parties at the 14,200-foot camp […]