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Future Of Work

The Smart Way to Shift to a Four-Day Workweek

For starters, don’t try to cram in five days of meetings.

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Illustration: Jackie Ferrentino for Bloomberg Businessweek

Back in pre-pandemic times, when a company wanted to switch to a four-day week, it did the obvious—delete a day and see what happens. This meant cramming five days of meetings into four, inevitably jeopardizing focused work time. But amid all the lockdowns and isolation of the past two years, businesses have done a lot of experimenting, and their ideas are starting to better reflect the intent behind the concept: improved work-life balance. “Four-day workweek” now means a condensed schedule, stripped of inefficiencies, says Brian Gorman, a principal at Do-Be Associates, a consulting company that helps businesses transition to fewer hours. “It’s a metaphor for flexibility.”

Common variations are parents who work Monday to Friday but only on six-hour shifts; or coders who do three 11-hour days. The overarching goal should be 100% pay and 100% of the effort in 80% of the hours, says Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder of 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit that is helping more than 100 organizations in six countries pilot shorter schedules. “At its core, this is about changing a business’s productivity culture so that the business doesn’t lose any revenue but its people are able to take time off without losing pay.”