Why aren’t four-day work weeks normal yet?

Looking back on how much I enjoyed four-day work weeks and wondering why they aren't the norm yet.

Be aware this is a draft post — please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

This is a part of the 100 Days To Offload challenge.

Work from home — almost overnight — became the new normal as far as professional life goes, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit us all in the various months of the tail end of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Given how quickly a majority of companies adapted (some couldn’t, or didn’t want to), I struggle to see why there’s been such little progress as far as four-day work weeks go. They’re brilliant!

When I last had the opportunity to be working with such a schedule, I made progress. I moved forward. Every week felt like it wasn’t a chain put on me by my employer, and instead, an opportunity to truly grow. I was definitely more focussed.

The boring stuff was easily left for Friday: going to the bank, accounting, emails, household chores, and other such quick errands. I could even spend time learning new tools or working on side-projects, and still have time for myself to relax and be ready for a fresh work week come Monday.

This weekend, I spent a significant chunk of time working on Celestial, my pet project, and I feel exhausted. It’s as if I’ve worked seven days. Seven!

A very interesting observation a Redditor had made when this article by the BBC was shared somewhere was when we get one extra day a week, our “me” time goes up an enormous 50% whereas our work time on the other hand only goes down by 20%.

I would argue this 20% cut in terms of time isn’t too significant for many industries who will also benefit from increased employee productivity in the four days that people do come in to work (or, well, work from home). The think-tank Autonomy agrees.

Many firms are resistant to the idea of a four-day week but the think tank Autonomy, which looks at work-related issues, reckons it would work well.

It claims a reduction in hours would be entirely offset by increases in productivity and price increases, in the best-cases.

“The four-day working week with no reduction in pay is good for the economy, good for workers and good for the environment. It’s an idea whose time has come.”

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