- Some companies are allowing staff to work only four days a week to combat pandemic burnout.
- Kickstarter is the latest to say that it would test a four-day workweek, starting in 2022.
- Proponents of it say the permanent three-day weekend boosts happiness and productivity.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Employee burnout is real, and the pandemic has reignited talk of how modern work should evolve.
Among the loudest of the chatter is the four-day workweek concept.
Some companies adopted the structure before the pandemic, like Microsoft Japan, which famously tried out a four-day workweek in mid-2019 and saw productivity jump by 40%.
But scores of others have taken interest in the approach as the pandemic has battered employees’ mental health, sending stress and burnout levels skyrocketing.
As The Atlantic reported, the four-day workweek could be the next inevitable evolution of work. In the early 1900s, the weekend was invented, and trade groups pushed back on it at the time, saying it would coddle employees and “subordinate” the importance of work. Now the weekend is a concrete part of our lives.
Here are the companies that have either toyed with or straight-out adopted allowing their employees to work just four days a week since March 2020.
The crowdfunding platform announced this week that it would start implementing a four-day workweek in 2022. It’s unclear if the experiment will affect all of the company’s employees or just a portion of them.
“What we’ve been all living through the last 18 months, you feel this compression on your professional life, your personal life,” CEO Aziz Hasan told Axios.
Buffer is one of the pioneers of the pandemic-era four-day workweek
The social media software company said in mid-2020 that it would experiment with letting its 89 employees work four days a week until the end of the year. It made the move after testing a four-day workweek in May 2020.
Buffer said it would keep paying employees the same even though their workweeks were shortened.
The company found that employees were still getting their work done and even increased their pace during the workday, all while seeing their happiness levels increase and their stress levels fall.
According to The Atlantic, the experiment is still in place at the company. “It has been such a godsend,” Essence Muhammad, a customer-support agent at Buffer, told the outlet.
Unilever is using its New Zealand office as a guinea pig
The global consumer goods company said in November 2020 that it would experiment with a four-day workweek for its 81 New Zealand employees until December 2021. Staff would still be paid for five days.
Unilever said it would look at how successful the adjustment was and see if it could work for its 155,000 global employees.
Elephant Ventures compressed the full workweek into four days
The New York-based software and data firm started a two-month experiment with a four-day workweek in August 2020 in response to pandemic-related spikes in burnout and blurred work-life boundaries.
However, the company took a different approach than others and kept the 40-hour workweek, compressing it into 10-hour days from Monday through Thursday.
As CNN reported, it took a while to adjust to the longer days, but employees largely enjoyed the structure.
“The time to get things done was shorter, projects move faster, you don’t have to put it down and pick back up,” founder Art Shectman told CNN.
Spain will kick off a 3-year trial of the four-day workweek
The Guardian reported in March that the Spanish government agreed to cover the costs of companies that opt to try out a 32-hour workweek for employees, without lowering their pay.
The multi-million-dollar fund will allow around 200 employers to participate, meaning thousands of workers will be able to test-drive the new approach. It could launch as early as this fall.
Four-day workweek advocates hope that the trial will help inform researchers how to implement the restructuring at other companies around the globe.
Awin will permanently allow employees to work four days a week
The Berlin-based affiliate marketing network, owned by Insider’s parent company Axel Springer, said in February that it was adopting a permanent four-day workweek.
“With staff well-being at the forefront of our minds, we have been experimenting with a more modern approach to work focusing entirely on outcomes rather than a more traditional input measurement,” CEO Adam Ross said, according to Digiday.
Unito will let employees choose if they want to work weekends instead of weekdays
The Montreal-based workflow management solutions firm said in October 2020 that it would start giving employees the option to work four days a week. They could also choose if they wanted to work on weekends instead of weekdays, as Digiday reported.
“This is our attempt to acknowledge and accommodate people’s needs, family situations and habits,” CEO Marc Boscher told the publication.