by Charlie Harte

4 Day Work Week


We continue to hear news about the 4-Day workweek.  Some European countries have implemented this, but it has yet to take hold in the US.  Is this a good idea for us in manufacturing?  Or in other types of work?  And who would benefit from such a change?

We have no particular view on this subject, other than the obvious fact that such a change would present problems to manufacturers, along with many others, of course.  The impetus for such a change probably comes from people interested in votes, not customers in a snit for delivery (just one example).  The former outnumber the latter, so stand by!

A February article appeared in dealing with several countries that have implemented some sort of reduced work week with very brief comments on results.  This is an interesting starter course on the subject, but terms such as “productivity increase”, worker satisfaction, worker well-being, and other claims lack definition.

Last October we wrote our first article on this subject as well.  At that time we discovered the concept that a 4-day workweek could mean different things.  Among them:

  • 4 10-hour days
  • 4 days of 8 hours, with a) the same pay, or b) reduced pay
  • 5 days of shorter hours-perhaps 6-7 hour workdays
  • 3 day weekends with a) Friday off or b) Monday off.

Clearly there are significant differences in how these options would affect your business if implemented.

For one, would your employees be happier with shorter hours and less pay?  Would they expect constant pay for reduced hours?

Several articles on this subject claim increased productivity, even willingness to accomplish the same results with fewer hours.  Does this suggest a management opportunity or perhaps some examination of current productivity?  Sounds suspicious to us.  How would it make sense that reducing work time would increase productivity?

Historically there has been a movement to increase leisure at the expense of work time.  Per a Google search, Henry Ford first instituted a 6-day, 48-hour workweek for male workers in 1914.  Later, in 1926, he changed to a 5-day, 40-hour workweek, which included a pay raise.  After nearly 100 years of the 5-day, 40-hour workweek, it appears change is on the horizon, so your preparation might be in order.

With the news being mostly happy talk about the benefits of reducing the workweek, there are several issues that might present problems.

One of these is child care, should a 10-hour workday take place.  Would whatever childcare source you use be able to adapt to a 10-hour workday?

What is not covered so far is what people will be doing with more leisure.  It may mean more auto and plane travel, thus neutralizing the claims about reduced carbon output.  There are probably more implications of more leisure to be disclosed.

We would be really interested in your comments on all this.  It looks like a coming trend difficult to resist, so preparation might be appropriate.

About the author 

Charlie Harte

I’ve built this business based upon my 30+ years in manufacturing sourcing and productivity improvements, where I’ve developed strong relationships with a network of local and global suppliers who’ve demonstrated on-time delivery, parts built to spec, excellent service and value. This means HAPPY CUSTOMERS!