The 4-Day Work Week is Coming

August 1, 2022 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

The American work week is in flux. If you haven’t noticed that in your own company, you will and probably soon. If the 2020 national COVID lockdown taught us anything, it was that corporately, we could survive working from home instead of the office. Last year, the “Great Resignation” revealed most employees actually preferred it. What’s curious, is while most people have happily returned to restaurants, concerts, vacations, movies and even church, there is still a pronounced hesitance to return to the office five days a week. Across the country, much of company leadership seems torn about changing work week dynamics and what the new normal should look like. Employees are not. The push for a 4-day work week is coming. And for those willing to consider doing things a little differently, it could be critical to attracting and keeping outstanding talent.

A little history.

Adjusting the parameters of the American work week is nothing new. We’ve been doing it for almost 200 years. In the 1830s, the manufacturing work week averaged just under 70 hours. By the turn of the century, that number had fallen to 60 hours and continued to trend down slowly until the U.S. entered the Great Depression. That’s when we shifted to the five day, 40-hour work week we enjoy now in the hope of spreading more work to more people. Admittedly, working 40 hours a week is a bit of a misnomer. The average is more than 47 and during the COVID lockdown, employees actually worked longer hours at home than they did at the office.

While there is certainly an ongoing debate about working from home vs. working at the office, here, we’re looking at the prospect of moving to a 4-day work week, why that seems to be gaining momentum, and why it could actually be beneficial to you and your team.

Trust goes a long way.

A few weeks ago on LinkedIn, Crumbl Cookies CEO Sawyer Hemsley posted that for the summer, the company would be shortening the work week and giving Crumbl employees their Fridays back. “At 300 employees, that’s over 14,000 hours given back to meaningful relationships!” Hemsley said. But then he went a bit further explaining why the cult cookie brand was making the move. “Research has shown that with this approach workers are less stressed, value their jobs more, and have better lives outside of work! On top of all of that, productivity remains the same, if not improves! We fully believe this will benefit employees, the company, and society.”

For some like Crumbl, the move to a 4-day work week is a fun perk for the summer when things often tend to slow down a bit anyway. But what might that look like on a permanent basis? In a recent survey of more than 10,000 workers by Slack’s Future Forum, 95 percent of knowledge workers said they wanted schedule flexibility.

At LOOMIS, we have always tried to adhere to the premise that when you hire good people, treat them like grownups, and give them the freedom to do what they do, good things happen.

For us, COVID proved that was indeed the case. Even when people were working 100 percent from home, the work got done and done well. In our experience, no matter what the shifting situation has ever been, our team has gotten whatever needed doing, done. I’m proud of that, but I know we’re not alone.

In this game, 4 beats a 5.

For those willing to consider a different schedule, there are certainly a number of options to choose from. Recently, in the world’s largest work schedule trial to date, more than 70 companies in the UK shifted to a four-day work week and will continue on that schedule through December. In that time, more than 3,300 employees across a wide spectrum of industries will work 80 percent of their regular hours (one extra day a week off) for 100 percent of their pay committing to maintain 100 percent of productivity. Personally, I think they are asking a lot expecting their employees to do the same amount of work in eight fewer hours a week, but we’ll see.

In my opinion, the far more realistic model is allowing people to work their normal weekly hours, but in four days rather than five. Provided the staff is large enough and diverse enough, employees can stagger which extra day they take off to make sure there is any needed coverage in the office, the store, or the restaurant. As Gravity CEO Dan Price said in a much-heralded tweet allowing his employees complete flexibility regarding their schedule, “Do whatever you want. If you get your work done, that’s all that matters.” While a bit more liberal than most companies would employ, I think Price’s head and heart are definitely in the right place.

Change is good.

Whether you are actively considering a change to a 4-day work week, or just fascinated by the discussion, it’s an intriguing concept that is gaining traction across the country. From our perspective, here are five reasons why moving to a 4-day work week could be a serious game changer for your company, ad agency, media company, or design firm:

1 – It allows your team greater focus.

Knowing there’s the reward of an extra day off, people will focus acutely on getting done what they need to not to cut into that extra day. For most employees, working a 10-hour day vs. an 8-hour day isn’t that different from their regular schedule. When you give your team the option for a 4-day work week, good employees will do what they have to do to keep that Friday or Monday off sacred, even if it means working earlier or later the days they are on.

2 – Another day off helps people refresh mentally and physically.

We’ve all had that feeling that the two-day weekend just isn’t enough. Let’s be honest, is it ever? For most families where both partners work and may or may not have extra help, Saturday is, in essence, another workday cleaning up the house, running errands, grocery shopping, and taking kids to their various activities. For people of faith, Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings take additional time out of the weekend until the only restful, restorative, enjoyable “down time” dwindles to mere hours. Is it any wonder struggles with mental illness are rampant in this country? Giving people an extra day off helps them refresh mentally and physically making them healthier all the way around.

3 – There’s a greater intensity on the “ON” days.

Have you ever noticed how much higher the energy is in the company on pitch days, or client meeting days, or other days with significant events? When you eliminate a day a week from the normal schedule, it makes every other day in the office that much more important. People talk. They collaborate. They get things done so production moves forward and everyone’s time off is respected. Yes, you move to a 4-day work week, but those other four days buzz.

4 – It provides greater work/life balance.

As long as I’ve been in the business, we’ve shared the debate about work/life balance. If you consider balance to be perfect equilibrium, there’s no such thing.

For most of us, working, earning a living, building companies simply takes a disproportionately larger amount of time than being at home. But that doesn’t mean that ratio can’t get better.

Giving your team an extra day a week to be with their families and live their lives is significant. It’s certainly important to Millennials and Gen Z hires looking to invest their lives in more than just their careers. A vacation day here and there is nice. An extra day every week is transformative and frees up your employees to do more of what matters to them.

5 – It sends a signal you genuinely care about your employees.

Make no mistake – your employees are reading about, seeing, and discussing the movement toward more flexible work schedules. As a leader, when you participate in that conversation with a willingness to listen and make changes that improve the quality of life for your team, it demonstrably shows that you care about them and their families. More importantly, it builds trust. It’s easier to be rigid. It’s easier to just leave things the way they are. But that doesn’t mean the status quo is better. Strong leadership isn’t a “me” orientation. It’s a “we” orientation. Put your people first and they will take care of the rest.

MIKE SULLIVAN is president and CEO at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising, and marketing, leadership, culture, and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

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4-day work weekad agencyadvertisingadvertising agencychallenger brandcompany cultureCOVIDCrumblcultureDan PriceFridaysGravityGreat DepressionGreat ResignationMike SullivanSawyer HemsleyThe Voice of The Underdogtop Dallas ad agencywork from home

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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