Pros and Cons of a Four Day Work Week

Runway East

5th July 2022

The UK is one of many countries giving the four day work week a go.

Thanks to 4 Day Week Global, the dream of working less hours for the same pay is becoming a reality for over 70 UK based companies.

With successful trials in New Zealand and Iceland, many companies may be thinking that the four day work week is a fix-all solution for productivity and employee wellbeing.

Whilst we’re all for making sure our family at Runway East are happy bunnies, we want to dig into some important points when considering a change in company working patterns.

What are the pros and cons of shaving a day off the work week?

Table of Contents

  • Advantages of a 4 day work week

  • Disadvantages of 4 day work week

  • 4 day work week case studies

  • Final thoughts

Advantages of a 4 day work week

Improved work-life balance

One of the biggest advantages of a four day workweek is the improved work-life balance that comes from working fewer hours.

Especially in the UK, where workers take on the highest amount of unpaid overtime in Europe, many employees are finding that their work-life balance is suffering. 

Having a job that offers a four-day week makes it easier for employees to crack on with caring duties for children and parents.

A 2018 survey asked employees how many days a week they would work in an ideal world for the same amount of money — only 4% chose zero days — 34% preferred a four day week.

Physical and mental health

In general, people working a 4 day work week report feeling happier, healthier, and not as stressed out by time constraints.

Preventing burnout is a top priority at Runway East, which is becoming increasingly common in countries like the UK.

Currently, 25% of sick days and workplace absences in the UK are linked to work-related stress. This could be much less if employees worked 32-hour weeks for the same pay. 

Working fewer hours per week allows people to take better care of their health by hitting the gym more often, getting crafty in the kitchen and having more downtime to chill out!

Productivity and creativity

A four day working week trial in Microsoft's Japan offices led to an increase in productivity levels of 40%

Employers who implement a 4 day work week have found that employees become more focused during the hours that they are working.

After trialling a four day work week, managers have reported that employees are more creative, focused, and even provide better customer service, with clients being left super happy.

Increased teamwork

Trials of a four day week have found that employees are more willing to collaborate and help each other out when they're working a shorter week.

Research has also found that 4 day work weeks can lead to more trust from managers that the team will get their work done

Education and volunteering

A shorter working week also enables employees to spend more of their free time on education, training, and upskilling. Why not use that extra day off to complete a Master’s degree?

Others increase the amount of volunteering and community work they do in their free time.

Attracting employees and employee retention

63% of businesses found it easier to attract new employees and retain existing talent with a four day work week, according to a white paper by 4 Day Week Global Foundation. 

Employees are increasingly valuing flexible working, whether that’s remote or hybrid.

Employers will find it easier to attract and retain staff if they can offer a reduced working week for the same amount of pay.

In one survey of 1000 Americans, 80% responded that the pandemic has made the 4 day work week more desirable, and 98% said that the extra day of the weekend would improve their mental health


One of the benefits of a 4 day work week is the reduction in emissions caused by commuting to workplaces.

Research by the University of Reading found that UK workers would drive 557.8 million fewer miles per week if they worked a 4 day week.

According to labour-focused thinktank Autonomy, a four day week in the UK would reduce carbon emissions by 117,000 tons.

That's the same reduction in emissions over one year as removing 1.3 million cars from the road!

Microsoft's Japan trial also led to a 23% fall in electricity costs because employees weren't in the office on Fridays.

Disadvantages of a 4 day work week

Stress full-time duties in a shorter week

One trial found that some employees felt increased stress and pressure when working a 4 day week.

They expressed that their workload had not decreased but the timeframe they needed to complete it within had shortened.

This led to a lot of people working longer hours on the days they were in the office in order to get the same amount of work done. 

Some teams might also find that they have greater workloads at different times of the year, or that individuals do not have the right skills to cover for their coworkers.

Insufficient solution to stress from overworking

In their book Overtime: Why We Need a Shorter Working Week, Will Stronge and Kyle Lewis have noted that a four day work week is not enough on its own for reducing stress.

Workers also need other policies such as the right to disconnect, which would help with the always-on approach many employees find themselves trapped in.


Some critics of the four day work week have pointed out that it might widen existing inequalities.

White collar workers would have more access to shorter hours, whereas people working low-paid manual or caring jobs will be left with the short end of the stick.

Nurses, for example, might not be able to work a shorter work week unless there were enough employees and resources to cover for them.

Yet one nursing home in Roanoke, Virginia, implemented a four day workweek by reducing nurses' hours to 30 per week while still paying the same salary.

Overall, the scheme costs about $20,000 a year, but it has had significant benefits - falls and infections within the care home have fallen, and nurses have been able to respond faster to call bells.

4 day work week case studies


Iceland has smashed their 4 day work week — around 85% of workers have the option to work 4 days a week with the same salary.

Most of the country's 350,000-strong population have got on board with it!

On top of the many social and health benefits of the four day work week, gender equality in Iceland has also seen improvements.

Men have more time to help around the house where these chores are typically done by women!

New Zealand

New Zealand estate planning firm Perpetual Guardian also trialled a now permanent four day work week successfully.

The firm cut employees' working hours by 20% but paid them the same rates, allowing employees to choose which additional day they'd like to take off.

Productivity rose by 20% and employees reported greater job satisfaction.

Stress levels also fell from 45% to 38% and work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%

Employees were able to focus more on their work and were motivated to be more productive, with time spent on non work-related websites reduced by 35%.

Final thoughts

Are you considering implementing a shorter work week in your small business or startup?

Move to a coworking space! You can save money and optimise the time your team spends together in the office.

Here at Runway East, we offer flexible office shares where your company can be based for part of the week while another business uses the space for the remaining days.

It's perfect for hybrid working teams or organisations that are trialling a four-day policy. 

With central locations in London and Bristol, moving into Runway East will make your employees excited to come in on their work days and save you money on rent and energy bills on your days off. 

Interested in finding out how a coworking location can enable a four day workweek for your business? Book a tour today

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