The 4-Day Week: Part One - Redesigning the Work-Life Balance

By Jeremy Blake on January 26, 2023

The work-life balance isn’t a new conversation and the last few years have made many of us reassess work and its place in our lives. The 4-day working week is firmly back on the agenda.

One of the organisations encouraging us to look at this is '4 Day Week Global'. One of its founders has a company, ‘Perpetual Guardian’, in New Zealand - they’ve run a trial for three months and statistics from that trial are encouraging.

The pre-trial general stress levels were at 45%, post-trial they dropped to 38%. Work-life balance went from 54% to post-trial 78%. As for people's engagement, that rocketed hugely, people's engagement in being leaders went from 64% to 82%, commitment 68% to 88%, how stimulated they are – 66% to 84%. And the feeling of empowerment went from 68% to 86%.

Interestingly, 100 British companies have recently decided to permanently move to a four-day week, after doing various trials. This is because they will have tried hybrid working since the pandemic and realised that many people are now working from home Mondays and Fridays. So, the idea of moving to a four-day week, in terms of productivity, probably isn't such a stretch for them. But that is a significant number of companies and if they are large companies, that's tens of thousands of employees, suddenly getting a day back a week, which is significant.

What could this change to a 4-day week mean in society? What are we looking to gain by moving from the existing model of a five-day week and a two-day weekend traditionally?

When everything is crammed into a weekend, there are traditions in how you spend that time. One of those days is usually reserved for the family to catch up on the week, which is all the boring fundamentals, washing, cleaning, ironing, cooking, etc. Then on the other day, you might relax and do some kind of activity, you might see friends or go out as a family. I think as soon as you add a third day in the mix, you would distribute how you spend your time and money, and I think the design of living would change. Depending on your character, how you spend your disposable income and how you value time, certain things could hugely increase. As does the time you have available for leisure.

The Greeks divided the day into three parts, they said there should be a cerebral time, a learning period of the day, and there should be a physical time, where you do some kind of sport, or activity. The third part, they said, should be social.

How would you redesign your life with a 4-day week?

Look out for The 4-Day Week: Part Two - Does a 4-Day Week Lock In Talent?