Intriguingly, the nation of Iceland recently announced the results of a large, multiyear experiment where the vast majority of the nation’s people worked four days per week, not five. The results were clear: Productivity stayed strong, with people working 35–36 hours over four days instead of 40 over five days. Salaries were not cut.
Would something similar fly in the U.S.? CSQ reached out to our C-Suite Advisors™ network and, citing Iceland, asked: “What are your thoughts on the four-day workweek or any other alternatives to what has long been the American standard? Would this work for your company?”
Here’s what some of our C-Suite Advisors™ said:
Jeremy Evans, Chief Entrepreneur Officer, California Sports Lawyer
There is wisdom in working hard and working smart. One can also overstudy, but not necessarily overpractice. Tim Ferriss wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, so four days seems like a lot more in comparison. In the age of digital, working remotely will continue to grow, especially if it makes workers more efficient in their work product and cost effectiveness.
Brian Werdesheim, Managing Director, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
I am not adverse to a four-day workweek, as I know many people who accomplish a great deal in a short period of time and I think we all know the world is populated with serial procrastinators who measure their success and effectiveness based on hours worked. With the massive wave of technological innovation and globalization, the metrics used to measure one’s effectiveness across many industries are much different today. What took hours and days in the past can sometimes be accomplished in minutes today.
We operate in a service industry and therefore there is a need to be accessible and operational five days a week. While our physical presence may not be needed Monday through Friday, we need to be in a position to execute regardless of where we are physically every day of the week.
In conclusion, one’s success, contributions, and value can no longer be measured by the number of days they spend in the office or at work.
Martin Levy, President and Founder, Corpstrat
I think we are in a crossroads—call it a third Industrial Revolution. It’s going to be interesting to see how our country balances the needs of a mature society and the pressures of socialization—and the cultural impact on businesses. It’s certain that younger employees see the work experience differently than generations before them: They want a meaningful and engaging one, and wages are no longer leading the discussion. So I think successful companies will move from wage/hour measurements to outcome-based performance, and likely, flexible remote work will replace at-office experiences for most.
Patty Deutsche, CEO and Founder, Volterra Communications
The idea of a four-day workweek not only sounds appealing, but it works!
In my last two corporate jobs, we had a choice of standard, four 10s (four 10-hour days), or what is called 9/80 work schedules, which is what most chose. You could work your 80 hours in nine days. Basically, it was nine-hour days with every other Friday off. Employees loved it. And as most employees work 9–10 hour days anyway, it felt like a reward. Work did not slip through the cracks—people got done what they needed to get done, probably more efficiently.
Unfortunately this didn’t always work in the manufacturing sector, where shift workers had to be on site 24/7, but for the office worker, it was terrific. And these days, with people working from home, it is not uncommon that employees are answering calls or e-mails on their “day off” anyway. Having that extra day to get things done and just decompress is a huge benefit. Hats off to Iceland for bucking the trends! I actually think, with the “shortage“ of willing workers, this is a benefit most employers should consider offering.
Daniel Rastein, CEO, cassderma rx
I strongly believe that there should be options in scheduling for every team member in order to fit each person’s preference, schedule, and life events. The four-day workweek does exist here in the U.S., but you have to jump through hoops and beg —it’s called either 4-10 or 10/40, where you basically work ten hours for four days to get in your 40 hours. This is a great option for people who are religious and need to prepare for the Sabbath on Friday night, or just people who don’t want to deal with rush-hour traffic by not traveling at the typical traffic hours. It is also a good option for individuals who are going back to school as working professionals —these executive programs usually run on Fridays and Saturdays. In any case, the four-day workweek should be a viable and available option, even if it is for spending more time with loved ones.
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