The workforce in America is currently undergoing a vast restructuring. With the workplace becoming more flexible about requirements to work on-site, advocates are calling for switching to a four-day workweek. Many people are already working remotely, whether full-time or a split schedule of two days at home and three at the office.
Is a four-day workweek the right move for your department? It’s not a feasible option for everyone or all departments, but there are many positive reasons why your institution should consider reducing the workweek.
In order to understand why a four-day workweek makes sense in the present day, you have to understand how and why the five-day workweek began decades ago in the first place.
The Origins of the Five-Day Workweek
Working five days a week with two days off is the norm for many employees, including scholars and researchers. However, that wasn’t always the case. The Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s was the precursor to the five-day workweek.
However, it wasn’t until 1908 that the change was initiated. Religious factory workers wanted to observe the Jewish Sabbath from sundown on Fridays until Saturday’s sundown. Henry Ford was among the first to observe the five-day workweek, closing auto factories on Saturday and Sunday.
Some factory jobs still exist in the United States, but the bulk of the manufacturing jobs are outsourced to other countries, particularly China.
Advantages of Working Four Days
Champions of moving to a four-day workweek proclaim that the benefits outweigh any negativities. In recent years, the focus on work-life balance has increased tenfold. Reducing the workweek would also reduce the risk of burnout.
With more time to disconnect from the stress of the job, institutions could see a spike in engagement while at work. Mental health is at the forefront of the debate over reducing the five-day workweek.
Working four days instead of five would give workers more time at home, thus making them more content and productive. Happy employees are more likely to be loyal and stay in their position longer.
Additionally, reducing the workweek would economically benefit employers and employees alike. With no one on-site, companies would see a decrease in costs. Furthermore, employees wouldn’t have to commute or spend money on lunch.
Disadvantages of Leaving Five Days Behind in Academics
Cutting the workweek to four days instead of five would mean longer work hours. They would still be required to work 40 hours a week. Therefore, instead of the typical 8-hour shift, employees would work 10+ hours four days a week.
However, the same amount of work would be expected at the same caliber and efficiency.
For those in academics, scholars and researchers would need to get five days' worth of work done in just four days. Depending on your position in the department, that could mean extending office hours for students.
Those in academia already often take their work home with them. That would be inevitable with fewer days working on-site and a heavier workload. Those on the fence about four-day workweeks cite the likelihood of work piling up with fewer hours to finish it.
A four-day workweek also risks a dip in productivity, as the pressure becomes too much. Proponents of the change believe that reducing the workweek will actually improve productivity. Are the rewards worth the possible risk?
It’s true that other countries, such as New Zealand and Ireland, have already implemented four-day workweeks with moderate success.
But is a four-day workweek right for you and your department? A platform that keeps departments cohesive will increase the chances of success with shorter workweeks.
How Impactio Saves You Time in Your Workweek
Platforms that streamline productivity can help ensure the success of moving to a four-day workweek. Impactio is America’s top-shelf networking platform for scientists and researchers. Impactio provides global collaboration with others in your field.
Having all your collaborations in one place will effectively save time throughout your workweek, whether it’s comprised of four or five days.