Employees at some companies are lucky enough to get three day weekends every (or every other) week. However, the results of recent studies may mean that a four day working week may soon become the norm for more of us.
There is a growing plethora of research which suggests that the traditional five-day workweek isn’t necessarily most efficient. Shorter weeks may actually boost employees’ productivity, as well as their general well-being. Longer weekends can also be a powerful incentive when recruiting new candidates and retaining existing employees, especially for smaller companies which may not be able to offer the financial incentives that larger companies can.
One such company whose employees work a four-day week is tech start-up iBeat. CEO Ryan Howard spends his extra day off indulging in his favourite pastimes, as well as going on trips and running any errands. Howard believes that as a result as having longer weekends, his work life balance is just that; balanced. And when he’s at work, he’s much more tuned in.
iBeat’s emphasis on work-life balance helps attract talented employees, including those who work long hours in office jobs where the culture is to frequently pull all-nighters and practically live at the office. While many younger employees can tolerate this for a while, when family life or outside-of-work comittments increase, this lifestyle becomes hard to attain.
Luckily for those of us working a 5 day week, the idea of giving employees a more flexible schedule seems to be slowly catching on. Research in the US has suggested that over 40% of companies allow some employees to work compressed weeks during at least part of the year. And global giant Amazon is beginning to test four-day, 30-hour workweeks for some of its employees.
However cutting a day out of the week isn’t always the best option for productivity. Web-based product management company Basecamp gave employees a three day weekend since it’s founding in 1999, until 2010. CEO Jason Fried felt the long weekends were beginning to feel more routine than luxury, so reduced the frequency of the four day working week to only take place between May and September. Fried believes that by making it special, employees were more excited by the concept – and therefore were more likely to take advantage of those extra days off.
So whether it’s the addition of the odd long weekend off or changing to a standard four-day week, maybe working 5 days a week 52 weeks a year will soon be a thing of the past.