Four Day Work Week

Ethan Creely

Four day work weeks have been just outside of reach for companies all around the US… or has it? Many European countries have switched to four day work weeks, along with some companies in the US. So, they can. And they should.

Four day work weeks are something that have been commonplace in many European countries. Iceland was the first country to experiment with this shortened schedule in 2015. According to the summary that the Icelandic government released in 2021, “Participating workers took on fewer hours and enjoyed greater well-being, improved work-life balance and a better cooperative spirit in the workplace – all while maintaining existing standards of performance and productivity.” The people that had more time to themselves and their family had increased happiness, while maintaining the same expectations as previous. “By the time of this report’s publication in June 2021, 86% of Iceland’s working population are now on contracts that have either moved them to shorter working hours, or give them the right to do so in the future.” This is showing that the trials are successful enough to convince many companies to convert to a four day work week. “Ultimately, it encompassed not only offices, but also playschools, city maintenance facilities, care-homes for people with various disabilities and special-needs, and beyond. The Reykjavík City Mayor’s office was included as well.” The end result of these trials changed, not only the workforce, but also government buildings. 

Its not just factory workers that feel this way. There are people all around the workforce that feel that they need less hours. In an interview with Jennifer White, an english teacher at SPASH, she was asked if she thinks that four day work weeks are better or worse than five day weeks. “Better! Sometimes I honestly feel like I need to leaving my teaching career for a job that involves fewer hours.” Even people who love and have a passion for the work they do are feeling overworked and are considering other jobs. When asked what benefits come from a four day work week, White said “It would allow people time for actual leisure. As it stands, weekends are used as catch-up days. We do the grocery shopping, the laundry. We pay the bills. With a four-day work week, we could instead use this extra day to catch-up so that the weekends could truly be spent with family and friends or following artistic pursuits like writing, painting or photography.” Many people struggle to find time to really relax and spend time with friends and family. This can lead to feeling burnt out.

Four day work weeks have been a topic of conversation for many years. According to The New York Times, “President Jimmy Carter in 1977 said a four-day workweek would conserve energy amid the oil crisis, and considered urging companies to adopt.” So, not only does a four day work week help the workers, but also the environment. Less energy being spent also saves companies money. 

In the long run, a four day work week can help everybody. Workers become less stressed and happy, less time keeping the store open means energy being spent. And the environment gets less greenhouse gasses.