For an alternate viewpoint, see “Point: 40-Hour Workweek Is Under Scrutiny.

The four-day workweek has gained increasing traction over the past decade due to technological advancements, improved productivity and pandemic shifts in the labor market. The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a chance to reimagine the work-life balance, and we should continue on that path by truly considering the benefits of the four-day workweek. It entails workers having the same workload and receiving the same pay and benefits.

Some say the four-day workweek is too radical of an idea, but growing evidence reveals a myriad of benefits to both employees and employers. We should be taking the idea seriously.

In the last two years, 8 million Americans reported working part-time for non-business reasons, such as self-care, caretaking obligations for others, or spending time with family. In fact, as companies and workers emerged from the pandemic recession and telecommuting, employers and employees alike started to think seriously about what matters most to them in life. A shorter workweek would allow workers more freedom to use time at their discretion.

Within a workplace, each employee is at various stages in their life. Having the choice to reconsider their return to work by focusing more on productivity and finding the best combination of work time instead of duration of hours is vital.

Through a four-day workweek provision, workers would have more control over their work time, ultimately improving their well-being. Research suggests that work-time flexibility and schedule control positively affect one’s perceived job satisfaction and reduce work-family conflict.

Workers can choose which four days they wish to work, and the combination of four days could differ from week to week. This discretion on the four-day workweek allows workers the ability to maximize their well-being because they can be more responsive in adjusting a schedule that better fits family needs, such as childcare emergencies and other obligations.

A four-day workweek could also save commuting costs for many families. It would reduce the stress and unnecessary cognitive efforts associated with frequent work-home transitions.

For employers, implementing a reduced workweek may improve their employees’ mental health, boost productivity and increase retention. Through a four-day workweek, employees may use that extra day to gain training, learn, or rest, ultimately improving productivity. When workers are happier and more productive at their jobs, they stay.

According to the largest trial of a reduced workweek with no pay reduction implemented at some British companies, about 90 percent of participating companies across various sectors noted they would continue with the four-day working arrangement. Among companies worldwide that switched to a reduced workweek without reducing pay, workers’ burnout decreased by about 70 percent, and it also reduced resignations.

Undoubtedly, employee mental and physical well-being has significantly improved with no loss in aggregate output, as many claim.

Further, by minimizing unnecessary meetings and encouraging more independent work, managers may save costs operationally. Research has shown that a company with a four-day workweek in place saw an electricity consumption reduction of about 23 percent and substantial operational costs decline as well.

Relatedly, the extra day from work could have a positive effect on society, including on climate-based priorities. Even though a hybrid work arrangement has been operational at many companies since the onset of the pandemic, as an environment-friendly strategy, a reduced workweek could benefit industries that still require in-person work by reducing the number of trips to work.

How people use the extra day off depends on each individual; nevertheless, research has estimated that a 10-percent reduction in hours worked may decrease a carbon footprint by 14 percent.

A shorter workweek might also create more total employment opportunities, improving workers’ well-being on a national scale.

How can we get there? Change is not easy. It will involve cultural and structural shifts in the long run. Despite the tremendous increase in productivity, it has been over three-quarters of a century since the Fair Labor Standard Act ensured overtime pay for time beyond a 40-hour workweek.

With the high rate of job turnover and a continued labor shortage in specific industries over the last two years, employers would do well to think about strategies, such as a four-day workweek, to recruit and retain workers.