More Than 50% of Managers Express Concerns About a 4-Day Workweek


Work-life balance was an important part of work culture even before the pandemic. However, it shot up in priority during the pandemic for employees worldwide. As most organizations went remote, employees became constantly connected to their mobile devices and laptops for work. In many cases, employees, especially women, had to spend less time at work as they had to take care of their personal commitments. Changing business dynamics also necessitated people to innovate and streamline processes, leading to spending lesser time at work. All these have led people, and in many cases, organizations, to question the concept of a 5-day, 40-hour workweek.

Many companies and even countries are experimenting with a four-day workweek. In fact, organizations advertising a four-day week in their job postings are receiving more applications than those who did not offer this feature.

So, what are the possible implications if that became a norm? Skynova surveyed over 1,000 employees and managers to identify the answers to these questions. The survey also tried to understand their productivity, work-life, and challenges associated with working fewer hours.

A significant finding was that more than two-thirds of managers believed that employees should work for the time needed to complete their work instead of a pre-defined number of hours. Respondents also highlighted certain challenges associated with fewer days of work. The following are the findings in detail.

See more: Future of Work: Why Businesses Should Focus On a Flexible Work Model

People Working From Home Work More

According to a recent study by TrustRadius, about 26% of HR professionals felt that remote work reduces productivity. While it is not necessarily true, as many other studies have found, the Skynova study found that people working the longest were in industries requiring more on-site work. For example, loggers and miners worked the most hours last year (44.6 hours per week on average). On the other hand, people in the education and health services sector worked about 33.3 hours per week on average. Workers in the leisure, hospitality and IT sectors saw the largest increase in weekly hours.

Average hours worked by employees in the past year by industry

Source: Skynova studyOpens a new window

This means that narrowing a workweek to four days may be more challenging for miners and loggers than for employees in the healthcare or education sector.

Fewer Hours Means More Productivity

A common misconception among several companies and sectors is that more hours means more productivity. However, experimentsOpens a new window and studies have shown that working for fewer hours makes people more productive. The Skynova study, too, echoed the same. About 25.2% of respondents said they needed fewer than eight hours a day to complete work for 3-4 days a week. About 29.6% said that they needed fewer than eight hours to complete their work almost every day.

Further, employees said they performed at their best during a 33-hour week. That means people work at a sub-optimal level for almost a day in the week. Also, most people felt that their performance was at its best for just four hours a day, and it dwindled as the week progressed.

Fortunately, about 67.6% of managers seem to be supportive when they say that employees should spend only the time needed to finish their tasks instead of a fixed number of hours. Further, only 34.2% of managers said they measure a person’s productivity by the number of hours worked, while 51.1% said they measure it by the quality of work.

Yet, several employees felt that they did not have enough time in a day to finish their workload. In fact, about 42.4% of employees wanted to work for more hours to complete their tasks during the last quarter.

The Challenges With a Changing Work Week

While a change in the number of working hours a week comes with certain benefits, it also comes with a few challenges. Both managers and employees pointed out some major challenges. For example, the top concern for managers (45.5%) was that their industry did not allow reduced hours or a flexible schedule. The second primary concern was managing a more flexible workforce and improving employee morale without changing work hours.

On the other hand, the top concern for about 50.1% of employees was working a flexible schedule when the rest of the industry followed a traditional workweek. For about 45.1% of employees, the biggest challenge was being expected to work more than needed.

Challenges of changing workweek

Source: Skynova studyOpens a new window

Offering a narrowed work week is simply not an option for some employers. Hence, many of them resorted to offering other perks, such as increased vacation or paid time off (PTO), increased support, and increased employee benefits instead of a reduced workweek.

See more: 64% Job Seekers Prioritize Pay, Will Settle for Less To Work Remotely: Study

The Type of a 4-Day Work Week People Prefer

Assuming a 4-day workweek became a reality, what type of workweek would people prefer? About 52.1% of respondents preferred an 8-hour workday, while 36.9% preferred a 10-hour workday. Interestingly enough, more Gen Z employees preferred a 10-hour workday than other generations. While many managers had the quality of work and the employees’ ability to keep up with work with a reduced workweek as their top concerns, about 42.1% of managers were actively considering this transition. About 26.1% also said that employees had a 4-day workweek occasionally instead of every week. Only 25.9% of managers were not considering a 4-day workweek, while 5.9% actually had a 4-day workweek with 10-hour workdays.

The Key Takeaway

With many people overworking ever since the pandemic hit the world, going for a reduced 4-day workweek may sound enticing. Undoubtedly, it may also bring several benefits like improved productivity. At the same time, there are also many challenges associated with a reduced workweek, as voiced by both employees and managers. As such, a uniform 4-day workweek may not be the right choice for all industries and companies. Instead, the best way to move ahead is to listen to employees and actively involve them in decision-making to reduce the work burden.

Are you planning to implement a 4-day workweek? What potential challenges do you see with it? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .