28 North American Companies Try Out The Four-Day Work Week

On the heels of more and more successful pilots, shorter work weeks continue to spread around the globe.

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A four-day work week may be one step closer to reality as over two dozen U.S. and Canadian firms join a trial to test the feasibility of a permanent switch.

The trial, spearheaded by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, includes roughly 4,000 people employed by 28 North American firms. Eighty percent of the firms switched to a four-day week with fewer total hours, while a handful opted for half-day Fridays or longer workdays earlier in the week and one additional day off — all with no decrease in pay. After six months, the companies will assess the results including changes in productivity and morale.

The North American trial begins in the wake of promising news from a U.K.-based four-day workweek trial that includes more than 70 companies and 3,300 workers. The U.K. trial recently released midpoint data from several of the firms, and the findings are promising — 86% of employer respondents said they’d consider switching to the four-day workweek full time when the trial was complete, and 88% say there has been no appreciable productivity loss. In fact, in many cases worker productivity increased.

Companies in the North American trial include media, tech, and medical non-profits. Firms like U.S.-based Search Engine Journal, Immersed Games, and architectural firm Peck, Peck, & Associates, along with Canadian employers PRAXIS, Sensei Labs, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, join more than 50 other firms in implementing a shortened week.

“The pilots we've run so far have had outstanding results,” Juliet Schor, a sociology professor at Boston College and lead researcher for the North American trial, said in a statement. “Companies are reporting that the four-day week has been a great success and that they'll be continuing. Employees are benefitting too — experiencing significantly less burnout, better work-family balance, and mental health. And they're suffering from much less sleep deprivation. Companies and their employees are benefitting from reducing the work week.”

Research surrounding the benefits of a truncated workweek has been given a closer look since the pandemic-spurred “Great Resignation” began, thanks to employers needing to explore novel solutions to employee retention — not to mention employees desperately seeking a way to find the elusive “work-life balance.” The findings surrounding a four-day work week have been promising so far. Employees claim to have less stress and more enjoyment in life, and most employers have found that their bottom lines aren’t negatively impacted and, in many cases, actually see an increase in profit after the switch.

An earlier trial that led to a permanent implementation of the four-day work week at Buffer, a social media company, was one such shining example. In a survey after the initial four-day work week trial, 91% of employees at Buffer say they’re happier with the 32-hour workweek, and 73% of them are working on the shorter schedule, but they want to take those 32 hours. The rest of the survey respondents still work less — on average, 4.5 workdays a week. Eighty-four percent said they were able to get the work done that they needed to in the new schedule.

This is why companies such as Search Engine Journal, a marketing news platform, are jumping in to give it a shot. “Search Engine Journal’s transition to a four-day week represents the best of our company’s shared belief system,” says Jenise Uehara, Search Engine Journal’s CEO. “We believe leadership has both a commercial imperative to mind the bottom line and a moral imperative to support work-life balance for all. Sometimes the best agent of change is disruption. Search Engine Journal will now have a precious gift we can give back to staff and their families: more time.”

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