Kickstarter, Shake Shack and Unilever’s New Zealand unit are among those that have experimented with the four-day workweek, or have announced plans to. And after an experiment in Iceland supported the idea that the system improves worker well-being without reducing overall output, a majority of the country’s workers have now moved to shorter workweeks, or will gain the right to.
A four-day schedule can make it easier for caregivers, including working parents, to juggle their responsibilities. And the extra day off means fewer commuting days, which saves time and reduces environmental impact.
One disadvantage reported in Iceland was that it was more challenging for managers to schedule group activities like training days or goodbye parties for departing staff. Mr. Harter, the chief scientist for Gallup’s workplace management practice, said in an interview that a good manager could offset any tendency toward disengagement.
Another common question is whether a four-day week is truly practical for all kinds of businesses, including companies such as law firms that are beholden to demands of clients that can arrive any day of the week. Kromann Reumert, a commercial law firm based in Copenhagen, Denmark, last year introduced a flexible working policy under which some staff work four-day weeks, though their overall hours are generally not reduced.
Proponents of four-day weeks say the key is to rein in meetings. (...)