The 4-day week: a new era of working time organization

Georg Salzmann

Georg Salzmann

September 1, 2023 • 3 minutes read

For decades, the traditional 5-day working week was the standard for many companies around the world. But in recent years, a new approach to the world of work has taken hold: the 4-day week. This innovative working time arrangement has the potential to fundamentally change the way we work.

4 Tage Woche

The 4-day week has now also arrived in Germany and is being tested for the first time as a pilot project.

What is the 4-day week?

The idea of the 4-day week is simple: instead of working five days a week, employees reduce their working hours to four days, with the same salary. The aim is to give employees more free time and improve their work-life balance.

Work-Life-Balance - a Myth?

Work-life balance is a central topic in today's society. In a world marked by constant accessibility, increasing professional demands, and growing digital connectivity, the question of a balanced relationship between work and personal life arises.

Work life balance

The advantages of the 4-day week

Better work-life balance: A shorter working week allows for employees to have more time for family, friends and personal interests.

Increased productivity: Studies show that employees are often more productive when working shorter hours as they are more focused on their tasks.

Health benefits: Reducing stress and overwork positively impacts employees' physical and mental health. This plays a particularly important role in the "mental illness epidemic".

Attractive for talents: Companies that offer the 4-day week can position themselves as attractive employers and gain talented specialists.

The Challenges of the 4-Day Week

Adjustment of Workload: In some cases, employees have to manage the same workload in four days as they did in five, requiring an even more efficient work approach.

Customer and Client Service: Companies must ensure that their customers and customer service do not suffer from a shortened workweek. For example, this can be prevented by having the workforce distribute their four working days evenly, so that all five working days are covered.

Leadership and Management: The introduction of the 4-day week requires careful planning and effective management to ensure that work processes run smoothly.

Industry Dependence: The feasibility of a 4-day week may vary depending on the industry and type of work. In some sectors, it may be easier to implement, while in others, it might not be feasible at all.

How much vacation entitlement exists with the 4-day week?

The number of legally entitled vacation days depends on the number of weekly working days. Consequently, with a 4-day week, the entitlement to vacation days also changes.

The Future of Work?

The 4-day week is being considered by an increasing number of companies, not only as a social benefit but also as a strategic instrument to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. Whether it will become the norm in the long term remains to be seen. It is an example of the changing dynamics in the world of work and the adaptation to the needs of modern employees.

Alternative: 5-hour workdays

In line with this, the so-called 5-hour workday is also gaining popularity. The 5-hour workday is a working time model that limits the working hours to five hours per day, instead of the usual eight hours. This model is based on the idea that employees can be just as, if not more, productive in a shorter time than in a conventional eight-hour workday.

Companies should carefully examine the 4-day week, considering its impact on their industry, employees, and corporate goals. Ultimately, transitioning to a shortened workweek can create a win-win situation for employers and employees, leading the working world into a new era of flexibility and quality of life.

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