It’s Time for the Four-Day Work Week

Ted Millar
5 min readApr 3
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

We know what our relatives are going to say about this next week when we meet around the table for another Holy Week holiday.

Four-day work week? People don’t want to work already!”

After knocking down the sweeping generalization about people “not wanting to work,” proceed to the facts about the movement gaining ground with the potential to revolutionize the working world in an age of Chat GPT, remote work, record-breaking corporate profits, and an increasingly strengthening labor movement.

Recently, companies like Microsoft Japan and Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand have experimented with a four-day workweek with positive results.

Cutting meeting times and consuming fewer office resources, Microsoft experienced a 40-percent per-employee spike in sales. Nearly all employees expressed satisfaction with the change, in part because many were given Friday off and received their normal five-day pay.

In 2018, trust management company Perpetual Guardian boasted a 20- percent gain in employee productivity and 45-percent increase in work-life balance after a trial that was so successful, the company decided to make it permanent. Company founder Andrew Barnes said, “There’s no downside for us.

An Ernst & Young survey last year about the future of work revealed 40 percent of companies surveyed admitting already have a four-day work week or working toward one.

The largest experiment occurred in Great Britain, where 61 British businesses from banks and fast-food restaurants to marketing firms granted 2,900 workers a paid day off per week to test if they could accomplish as efficiently working less. The results were promising: workers reported sleeping better, being more productive for their companies, and having more time to spend with their families.

More than 90% of companies stated they would like to continue the shorter week, and 18 planned to make it permanent.

Where did the current eight-hour, five-day work week come from, and what is so magical about working 40 hours over five days with a two-day weekend?

To answer that, we have to go all the way back a century.

Ted Millar

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for The Left Place blog on Substack: Twitter: @tedmillar