An Extra Day Off Increased Employee Productivity by More Than 5%

An Extra Day Off Increased Employee Productivity by More Than 5%

A popular trial conducted by the 4 Day Week Global (a not-for-profit org) in 2022 revealed that giving an extra day off to all employees had a positive effect on the productivity, performance, and experience of employees.

  • 96.9% of the employees wanted this trial to continue. They explained how their work performance jumped from 7.17 to 7.83 on a scale of 0-10, where 10 reflected the most positive outcome.

  • 67% of the employees affirmed that they were now less burned out. Their fatigue levels had dropped from 66% (pre-trial) to 57% (post-trial).

  • In fact, companies rated the entire experience as 9.0. They reported an 8.14% increase in revenue during the trial period.

"Are we working five days a week just because we have done it that way for more than a century, or is it really the best way?," wrote Jenny Gross in the New York Times - raising an immensely important question. The conversation around implementing the four-day workweek has been growing stronger in the last few years. And this led us to test the hypothesis ourselves.

Our Survey Affirms the Effectiveness of the four-day Workweek

We surveyed three of our clients who had been experimenting with this new work model for about a week now. Our aim was to quantify whether a shorter work week would be an effective way to boost employee productivity and performance while improving both business results and job satisfaction.

For this test, we looked at two variables:

  • Active time, i.e., the time actively spent by employees working on their computers. The activities, in this case, included typing, viewing websites, using applications, and more.

  • Inactive time, i.e., the time employees spent not working. Here, the variables were more varied — but they included time spent away from work.

We ran a comparative analysis (before and after) analysing the differences in two variables before the experiment and one week into the experiment.

Here's what we found:

  • All three clients reported an increase in active time and a proportional decrease in inactive time. The mean % change in active time was between 4% and 5%.

  • One of the clients reported a substantial increase in active time, with their employees spending 79% of the time on work-related activities, up from 71% a week ago.

  • The average increase in productivity was more than 5%. The low value was due to the short span of the trial. It can be assumed that the change in productivity would be a lot higher if the trial continues for longer. And we'd be hoping to share those results in the next few weeks.

For now, the hypothesis of this case study is validated. A shorter work week of four days improves productivity. But it's important to acknowledge that the implementation and management of this work model is still young — with much possible improvement to be realised.

So, What Are the Benefits of a Four-Day Work Week?

Last year, Belgium introduced a four-day work week, the UK reported their trials to have been immensely successful, Spain started its own trial projects, US and Canada expressed strong interest, and companies from New Zealand also commenced looking through their four-day work options. More countries are expected to follow suit. But why so? Apparently, a four-day workweek:

  • Improves job satisfaction. Not only does it provide the opportunity for employees to spend more time with their families, it also helps employees take care of other obligations and commitments.

  • Improves worker health. This is especially important, given the strain employees are under, with growing work hours and increasing workloads. Burnout is, in fact, a common problem that plagues organisations.

  • Improves productivity and performance. A shorter work week could reduce distractions, lessen the idle time, and boost employees' focus. The Search Engine Journal (SEJ) puts it rather succinctly: "For salaried employees, the four-day workweek calculation is pretty easy: 100% pay, 80% time, 100% productivity."

  • Reduces commute time. On top of that, this shorter working schedule actually reduces the time spent travelling to and from work — not to mention the reduced costs accrued as a result of less travelling.

  • Increases revenue. Cuing back to the 4 Day Week Global report, organisations reported a revenue increase of 37.55% - owing to the influence of the four-day work week.

Is the Four-Day Work Week Beneficial to Every Business?

That's a tough question. Since the data is still in its infancy, there's still a lot to be explored. The key finding from this experiment is that a shorter work week does, indeed, improve productivity and performance. But we certainly won't be surprised if it turns out that some jobs can't benefit from such a change for a number of reasons.

Consider this; a design or an advertising agency can perhaps schedule their employees' workload to be more intense and focused during the four days they work. But, a restaurant or a bank — with their longer operational hours — might actually need their best workers on the job even more. Then there are workers in the factory or doctors or public servants who need to be available at all times because they're required to respond to emergencies or deal with irregular situations.

In that light, the adoption of a four-day workweek might entail scheduling the shifts in a way that allows workers to be at their jobs for just four days across the length of the week. They might not be able to take the off together, but they'd still be able to have a three-day weekend. This could very well be the solution for many organisations going forward.

In a Nutshell

The experiment has yielded promising results so far. The short-term benefits are obvious, and it would be interesting to see how it pans out in the long term. For now, the notion of a four-day workweek seems to have staying power. This is great news for employees and employers alike.

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