4-day workweek no panacea (Guest commentary)

Employers should determine exact goals before shortening workweek
By Johnny Laurent
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/03/2011

If the sheer number of articles and blogs devoted to the topic of a four-day, 10-hour (4/10) workweek is anything to go by, the debate over longer — but fewer — workdays is ramping up. Partially driven by the need to reduce costs, many public sector organizations have already picked this option.

Utah has stood as a popular point of reference for the success of a four-day week. In that state, 63 per cent of government employees report increased productivity and 79 per cent say they have had a positive experience, according to the government. As an added bonus, many of its employees also report lower levels of work-family conflicts. And while a government audit of the state’s program found the switch had not led to the multimillion-dollar savings it had hoped for, the costs of utilities, fleet services and overtime all declined.

Proponents of the revised schedule tout other benefits, including reduced commuting costs, both for workers and employers that pay for transportation-related costs. Cutting one workday reduces commuting by 20 per cent and having people start work earlier and finish later could also make roads less congested.