The four-day work week can be an attractive option for employers and employees alike, appealing to the business’ bottom line and the work-life balance of a productive workforce. In most cases, employees work nine or 10 hours a day, so workers still put in the hours. Work time is simply compressed.

In other instances, the job gets done in 32 hours using improved technology, refined business systems, and a focused workforce willing to work harder for an extra day off each week.

So, what are the pros and cons of a compressed work week, and is a four-day on, three-day off, schedule for your business? It depends on what kind of business you manage or own.

The positives of a four-day work week are clear. First, employees will enjoy a three-day weekend every weekend, and that makes many employees very happy. Same paycheck, fewer trips to work. This provides more family time and a better balance between work and personal life in many cases.

You’re likely to attract more highly qualified new hires who view the four-day week as a major lifestyle benefit.

Because of the longer work day, employees miss the standard morning rush hour, getting to work early and staying later. Less time in traffic – a big plus.

If it’s possible to get the same amount work done in four days that you did in five, you may save on facilities costs (heating, lighting, etc.) by closing down one day a week.

The downside to a compressed work week. Putting in a 10-hour day can take its toll – especially on employees who do the heavy lifting where product is made. Those extra two hours may be too much to handle for certain jobs that rely on physical stamina.

Scheduling can be more difficult. Shifts may overlap, costing the company more. Getting to the office or home for dinner may not fit a compressed schedule when you also have to wait for the school bus each morning.

Putting in a long day, and draining stamina, makes after-work activities more difficult, and many employees look forward to weekly bowling night or aerobics class. Now, putting in a 10 hour day, they’re too tired to compete.

A compressed work week may conflict with union contracts or state and local labor laws – something worth checking out before moving to a shorter work week. Ask your legal counsel.

Employees may run into child care problems working longer days, even though that weekly three-day weekend sounds pretty tempting.

Be flexible and get employee input. Lay out the options. Four 10-hour days? Five 8-hour days alternating with a four-day week? Talk to employees about their scheduling needs and accommodate these team members when possible.

A compressed work week is right for some businesses, and when coupled with flextime or job sharing, you can expect top performance from a content, loyal workforce.

Be fair to all employees. The four-day week isn’t for every business or every employee. Weigh the options, get input from staff, and check the legal implications of switching over to a four-day work week.  

Is a four-day work week the right choice for your business? Ask around and do your homework before making any decisions. Try it for six months. Then, ask employees whether the compressed work week is right for them. Attracting and maintaining the best minds in your company requires the kind of benefits that significantly improve quality of life, and the four-day work week may be one of them.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC