2 min read

Pros and cons of the four-day workweek

Once incomprehensible, a new study shows the four-day workweek maintains productivity levels
Pros and cons of the four-day workweek
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor / Unsplash

Sustain issue #18 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

The power balance is moving quickly from employer to employee. Companies that want to attract and retain the best people understand this shift. The best companies will hire good people, ask them what they need to be successful, and then get out of the way. No micromanaging. No green light watching.

This week we’ll look at one of the seemingly incomprehensible ideas that this shifting power balance has given rise to – The four-day workweek.  

Iceland recently completed a multi-year study of 2,500 people working a four-day workweek (started pre-COVID). It was an overwhelming success for the participants and — insert not shocked face — they were just as productive.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of a four-day workweek


  • More time for hobbies and restorative time
  • Men took up more household chores that typically fall to women
  • Reduced greenhouse emissions with less commuting
  • Built-in prioritization: Focus on important work only with less fluff
  • Less strain on working parents (especially single parents)
  • Employees view their job/company more favorably; less turnover
  • Rested and happy people do their job better
  • It forces people to take time off in a society where so much vacation time goes unused


  • When the workload is high, it can lead to extra stress when compressing the workweek. However, study participants note it evens out after a couple month adjustment period.
  • Nobody for the CEO to call Friday to fix their problems 😂

Four-day week or not, the question leaders need to develop a point of view on — and fast — is if they want employees to get their work done and then have the freedom to log off and restore for tomorrow. OR do they want employees that feel an implicit pressure to produce as much as possible stretched out over a grueling 40-60 hours a week becoming more jaded with a MUCH higher flight risk?

Said another way: Is it really worth driving your people into the ground to hit a quarterly number if they all leave? What happens the next quarter and the quarter after that?

Now’s the time to use your voice and share what will truly and honestly make you successful in your job while keeping yourself well. Leaders are hyper-attentive to this right now since they don’t want to lose their top people. Not all leaders and companies will take action on what they hear, but the good ones will.

At a sustainable pace,


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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