Is the four-day work week a thing?

In part driven by the pandemic that shut offices (and orifices) across America, the four-day work week is gaining favor.

(Graphic courtesy of Gizmodo)

It’s being implemented by companies and government entities, but media reporting often misses a key point, namely hours to be worked in a week.

Some employers are permitting a 40-hour work week achieved by four 10-hour days. But other companies and governments are offering a four-day work week at the current daily eight hours. That means 40 hours is reduced to 32, which is effectively a 25% pay hike. Not more cash in your pay check, but a big boost in your hourly wage.

Business is free to do what it wants. I am more concerned about the government. One small city — I lost the name, sorry — said it was going to a four-day work week, from Monday to Thursday.

Well, how nice for them, but what about taxpayers who need to transact business on Friday? The taxpayers who pay the salaries of the four-day wonders.

It’s easy to fix. Platoon the work force between those who prefer Monday to Thursday and those who prefer Tuesday to Friday. But you don’t just write off Friday.


Reporting on companies who have gone to four-day work weeks suggests that productivity has gone up, which is contralogical. It also seems to undermine the idea that a lot of workers have made a decision to work less hard at the office.

I can’t quite figure it out, as I have spent most of my life working more hours than I was required to work. That’s one result of loving what you did for a living.

Mostly it was voluntary, but it was not my first two years at the Daily News, under a different owner than now, and also under an editor who was violating the Knight Newspapers management manual. 

The unpaid overtime was a federal violation, and when I threatened to take it to the U.S. Department of Labor, the company agreed to a small stipend — after demoting me and sending me to work on the night desk.

Oh, well. That was 1975.

In my career I have been friends with a lot of other Type As, people who were driven to achieve, to beat the competition; and with others who barely show up. At some places I have worked or covered as a reporter — TV outlets — I have seen an amazing disparity between the high-energy and low-energy types, and been surprised at how often the barely-there, teacher’s pets types have been rewarded. 

That’s life, and as one of my least favorite presidents once declared, “Life is unfair.” [Jimmy Carter.]

I have been a boss and I know that’s not always a walk in the park, and I did have favorites. 

My favorites were self-starters, people who handed in clean, fact-checked stories, and before deadline. They made my job easier, so, of course, I favored them. I’m only human.

No matter what you have heard.

So, full steam ahead with four-day work weeks, but be sure to be fair to the workers, and to the customers, be they at retail or taxpayers.

4 thoughts on “Is the four-day work week a thing?”

  1. Interesting topic. No matter the length of the work week — four days or five — there will always be those who WORK because they love to WORK, and those who are a drag on getting the job done. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” I don’t know who said it, but it is pithy.

    On another tangent, for two of my four years of active duty in the Air Force, I worked shift work. I.e., Three days of 6AM to 3PM, then off a day. Then three days of 3PM to midnight, then off a day. Then three days of midnight to 6AM, then off for three days. This shift work was in Misawa, Japan where the USAF had a communications site to monitor the Russians across the Sea of Japan, requiring 24-hour coverage. To this day I wonder why we do not work such shift work on major projects (such as highway construction) to complete the work in maybe half the time. It is so frustrating to see construction sites sitting idle from 5PM to 7AM, and on weekends. If work were to be done in shifts, covering 24 hours (or 18, if the unions bitched), the work could be completed much more quickly. But again, it would take workers who love to WORK, not just pick up a paycheck.

  2. Excellent points, Stu.

    While the adopted four-day workweek in Keller, Texas, is viewed as a success by the city and most employees, there is no measure of public response. As you note, citizens of Keller are denied access to service when public offices are shut down.

    Your suggestion for allowing employees to work Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday solves that problem.

    And Vince’s proposal seems equally beneficial–work around the clock and on weekends to complete public works projects.

    1. I laugh at the concept. I worked 5,6,or 7 days a week when necessary. Sometimes because of “projects assigned”in addition to my normal duties, I worked 16 hours a day. NO OVERTIME. So when the time came I was downsized out of a job. Interesting tho I always got good ratings, however, I was the oldest, did not make as much money had more experience and the latest hire in the section made more money, did not drive (which was necessary). Go figure

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