The Pros and Cons of the 4-Day Work Week

April 28, 2022

More and more companies are trialling the 4-day work week across the US, and across the globe. Discover what’s behind this trends, as well as the pros and cons of the 4-day work week in this post:

Benefits of the 4-Day Work Week

The 4-day work week vaulted into the spotlight after a trial by the Reykjavik City Council, which included more than 2,500 workers (or 1% of Iceland’s working population). As part of the trail, workers adopted a 35-36 hour week across 4 days, with no reduction in pay. 

The key finding was that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces. As a result, unions have renegotiated working patterns and, now, 86% of Iceland’s workers either work fewer hours for the same pay, or will soon have the right to work fewer hours for the same pay. 

As a result, increased productivity is often cited as a key benefit of the 4-day work week. But there are others, including: 

  • Reduced absenteeism;
  • Increased engagement; 
  • Improved work/life balance;
  • Smaller carbon footprints;
  • Better staff retention;
  • Talent attraction; and
  • Increased digital transformation.

4-day work weeks also have potential to improve female participation in the workforce, since it makes space for families to more equitably split caring and household duties. 


Drawbacks of the 4-Day Work Week

Unfortunately, the 4-day work week is not an easy solution to all workplace woes and there are drawbacks, including:

Potential for reduced customer satisfaction

A Utah study concluded when customers complained about not being able to access government services when offices were closed on Fridays. There are solutions that would have helped the government overcome this, such as to offer split schedules, where some workers take Mondays off and others Fridays, or to implement AI-powered websites to allow customers to help themselves online. However, this isn’t always immediately practicable and may result in customer dissatisfaction. 

Potential for increased reliance on technologies

Generally speaking, digital transformation offers incredible benefits to organizations. However, it’s also expensive – prohibitively so for many small-to-medium businesses and government departments with budgetary constraints. 

Increased Scheduling Issues

Worker availability to attend meetings will decrease during a shortened work week, particularly if the workplace also has meeting-free day policies in place. This can be particularly challenging for workplaces that hold higher volumes of internal meetings or for workers with customer facing jobs. 

If you’re considering introducing a 4-day work week, there are legal hurdles to overcome. If you’d like to learn more about them, listen to our recent podcast (episode 31). Or – if you’d like to adjust your workplace policies, reach out. Our employment attorneys would be thrilled to help. 


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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