Could America adopt a 4-day work week? 38 American and Canadian companies join the pilot program

The idea of ​​a shortened four-day workweek has gained traction in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic which has radically changed the way businesses operate and presented a broad reassessment of work-life balance. professional and private life.

Today, more than three dozen companies in the United States and Canada are trying it out in a trial program, including crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, a maker of custom motorhomes in the Ohio and even a hotel group in New Mexico that manages several restaurants.

The pilot program, run by non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, began on April 1 and will run for six months. A total of 38 companies across North America are participating, and nearly 2,000 employees will get a paid day off each week during the trial.

The majority of companies started the trial this month, with some starting as early as February and others in May or June. Other trial programs will be rolled out this year in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the organization said.

What does a four-day work week mean?

The four-day work week aims for employees to receive 100% pay but work 80% of the time and maintain 100% productivity.

Previous case studies have found that companies that have made the transition to a 32-hour work week have benefited from increased productivity, increased talent attraction and retention, and an overall improvement in the health of the employees, the customers also appreciating the results.

It seeks to shift the focus from hours worked to overall productivity and, therefore, can actually force companies to evaluate work practices such as poorly run meetings and outdated technology to make businesses more efficient.

Various companies and governments have done their own trials or implemented shorter working hours, including Microsoft in Japan and the Icelandic government. A California lawmaker has introduced legislation to reduce the standard 40-hour week to 32 hours for some businesses.

The pandemic has also forced companies and employees to explore more remote work options and reassess work-life balance. A large majority of American workers (92%) said they favored a four-day work week, even if it meant longer hours, according to a survey published in February by cloud software provider Qualtrics.

FILE – A woman walks in front of the skyline of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center at sunset in New York City on January 11, 2022 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

“It’s been more than a general change. It’s been a complete game-changer,” said Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, of the impact of the pandemic on work culture.

O’Connor added that the five-day workweek is “very deeply ingrained in culture and society and sometimes it takes a disruptor like the pandemic to dislodge something like that.”

US and Canadian companies participating in the 4-day work week trial

For the North American trial program, the performance of participating companies will be assessed throughout the trial by monitoring variables such as revenue, productivity, sick leave and employee turnover. Employees also complete surveys on well-being, stress, burnout and work-life balance.

Additionally, the program asks employees to complete time usage logs to see how they are using their new overtime.

“Are they living more sustainably? Is there a better distribution of domestic work between women and men, and does this therefore have a huge impact on gender equity? O’Connor explained.

For-profit companies participating in the pilot include M’tucci’s Restaurants, which has multiple locations and a restaurant branch in New Mexico, custom Mercedes Benz motor home maker Advanced RV, and Fresh Squeezed Ideas, a business solutions company and innovation based on the humanities. .

M’Tucci’s Restaurants chairman John Haas said they were intrigued by the four-day week and excited to test such flexibility in “the fast-paced hospitality industry”.

“People in our industry are naturally adaptable and open to new ideas, and we’re excited to see what we and other organizations learn from this pilot project,” Haas said in a statement.

Other nonprofits participating in the trial include Mental Health Advocacy Services, which works to provide free legal services to people with mental disorders, and health education organization Healthwise.

O’Connor said 4 Day Week Global hopes the trial results can open the door for big business and governments to more seriously consider this as the future of work.

Can a 4-day work week exist for all industries?

“One of the biggest misconceptions about the four-day work week is that we’re talking about everybody’s Friday off, or we’re talking about that universal day off,” O’Connor told TV stations. FOX.

For a small minority of businesses, such as an advertising agency tasked with delivering a particular project for a client within a certain time frame, closing an extra day a week might not have a big impact on profitability.

But for a wider range of businesses, such as sales-focused or customer service-focused businesses, this might not be an option.

“We’re not talking about the company moving to a four-day workweek, we’re talking about employees moving to a four-day workweek and different shifts, rosters and schedules, ensuring that you maintain coverage and service for the five days,” O’Connor explained.

Some companies have even extended their services to evenings and weekends while shifting their employees to a four-day work week due to changing schedules, O’Connor said.

In other words, the four-day workweek is flexible, not a one-size-fits-all model.

“For a lot of companies, the four-day work week is already there, it’s just buried under the rubble of it all. And once you get serious about it, you find that the four-day work week days is within your reach,” O’Connor said.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.