AP

Are 4-day workweeks, flexible hours the future of full-time?

Jul 7, 2022, 4:00 AM | Updated: 5:48 am

A four-day workweek sounds appealing to workers. Possibly alarming to employers.

A bill introduced in the California legislature earlier this year proposed a regular pay rate for 32 hours of work per week, with overtime kicking in after that. The measure stalled in committee for a lack of broad support but could resurface in 2023.

Meanwhile, 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit foundation associated with Oxford University, is piloting a six-month trial of a four-day workweek “with no loss of pay for employees.” More than three dozen companies in the U.S. and Canada are participating in the experiment, with a total of 150 organizations and 7,000 employees involved worldwide.

Of more than 1,000 U.S. adult employees surveyed by research firm Qualtrics in January, 92% said they would support their employer going to a four-day workweek; 79% of them said it would help mental health, and 82% said it would make them more productive .

Will more employers embrace the change?

THE CHANGE CAN BE CHALLENGING

“I’ve always been curious about burnout. It truly affects those that should be thriving,” says Lisa Belanger, CEO of ConsciousWorks in Canmore, Alberta. She consults with businesses on workplace well-being. In her quest to find “how work is meant to be,” she decided to explore a four-day workweek herself.

Results have been mixed, at best, she says.

“I think I’ve failed so far in my own personal experiment,” Belanger says. Business travel plans or other work-related responsibilities often interrupted her Day Five off.

“One of the reasons it’s so challenging for me, and most people, to do a four-day workweek is other people are working on that fifth day, so you’re getting email and you’re getting pulled in,” Belanger says.

ALTERING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR AND EXPECTATIONS

“People are realizing that while this might be an intriguing or interesting idea, there’s probably some trade-offs,” says Benjamin Granger, head of employee experience advisory services at Qualtrics. He says the company’s research indicates concerns regarding customer frustration if staffing changes have an impact on response time.

Widespread adoption would have to reach critical mass, where companies believe they have to adopt a shorter workweek to compete in the workforce, he adds. And consumer behavior and customer expectations and services would need to be reshaped.

“We’re not even close to that yet,” he says.

If it’s not a four-day workweek, there are other levers to pull when it comes to workplace flexibility, Granger says.

Those could include perks that make a job more attractive, like choosing the hours you want to work rather than the usual 9-to-5, or the ability to run errands during the workday.

FEW EMPLOYEES WOULD BE WILLING TO TAKE A PAY CUT

Less than 4 in 10 (37%) of the employees surveyed by Qualtrics would be willing to take a 5% or more pay cut for a four-day workweek . But nearly three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed said a four-day workweek would mean they would have to work longer days.

However, 10-hour days often aren’t child care friendly. And if a company offers to pay for only four days of eight hours each, it could indicate a shorter workweek might be the result of a company trying to reduce expenses.

CONSIDERING THE TRADE-OFFS

“I think there is a lot of work and research that an organization has to do before it pulls the trigger on this,” Granger says.

A four-day workweek — or other workplace flexibility — might begin with a series of discussions. If there is interest on both sides of the payroll, Granger suggests a trade-off analysis: “Look statistically at the factors that people would be willing to trade off, and would it be worth it to them?” If interest remains strong, the organization could run a pilot program with a small group of employees before a wider rollout.

If a four-day workweek isn’t in your near future, Belanger offers these ideas for employees to possibly seek — and employers to consider:

— Occasional extended weekends off. Belanger says this allows time away without the stressful “work is piling up while I’m away” feeling during longer vacations.

— A meeting-free Friday or a reduction in the number of meetings overall.

— Email, instant messaging or texting hiatuses. “Telepressure” — the compulsion to quickly respond to work-related messages of any kind — is a real thing, Belanger says.

“You need a couple of hours every single day where you’re wholly not working — 100% not working,” for mental health, she adds.

_________________________________

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Hal M. Bundrick is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

RELATED LINKS:

Psychology Today: Are you suffering from telepressure? Time for the cure https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-wide-wide-world-psychology/201504/are-you-suffering-telepressure-time-the-cure

NerdWallet: How to Get What You Want at Your Next Job https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-job-negotiation-tips

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Global technology outage causes chaos on Friday morning...

Associated Press

Faulty software update causes havoc worldwide for airlines, hospitals and governments

A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday morning.

3 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

Donald Trump celebrated by former rivals at Republican National Convention

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

5 days ago

FILE - Members of the Henderson Fire Department load Deb Billet, 66, into an ambulance before trans...

Associated Press

Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths.

9 days ago

FILE - Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the "Ask Dr. Ruth" panel during the Hulu presentation at...

Associated Press

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, has died

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the sex therapist who became a pop icon, media star and best-selling author, has died.

9 days ago

Biden proposes rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat...

Associated Press

Biden proposes new rule to protect 36 million workers from extreme heat

President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed a new rule to address excessive heat in the workplace, warning — as tens of millions of people in the U.S. are under heat advisories — that high temperatures are the country's leading weather-related killer.

19 days ago

FILE - Rori Chang, of Glendale, Ariz., walks with her dog Ava as they leave the Maricopa Country An...

Associated Press

Here are ways that can help ease dogs’ July Fourth dread

Those with furry, four-legged family members will be searching for solutions to the Fourth of July anxiety that fireworks bring.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Are 4-day workweeks, flexible hours the future of full-time?