How 4-day workweeks could benefit employees, companies, and communities alike

It’s Friday morning. While other working parents in Fort Wayne are chugging coffee, getting kids ready, and rushing out the door, Lauren Wygant’s pace is different. She’s relaxed. There’s no need to hurry. Despite what the calendar says, her workweek is finished.

Wygant is an account manager at Reusser, a marketing agency located in Roanoke that maintains a full-time, four-day workweek. This schedule allows her to spend more time with her daughter.

“My Fridays are so much more relaxed,” says Wygant. “While everyone else is at work, I can get things done or go to the zoo when it’s not an absolute zoo.”

Reusser is a marketing agency located in Roanoke that maintains a full-time, four-day workweek.

Quarantine forced countless companies to shake up the status quo. This took many different forms, but Reusser has kept a condensed workweek of four 10-hour days as opposed to five eight-hour days, for almost 10 years. 

It started as a short-term experiment in 2013 for Nate Reusser, President of Reusser. Could five days worth of work be done in four? He wondered. The answer turned out to be more than "yes." It evolved into a cornerstone of his company's culture.

“At the end of the day, we want to drive results for the clients we serve," Reusser says. "Achieving this in four days instead of five has served us well for nearly a decade. If we truly want to foster a culture that honors work-life balance, it starts with leadership decisions that reinforce that freedom.”

As the "new normal" continues to shake up how America works, remote work and the four-day workweek are gaining momentum.

Any company considering a four-day workweek will be required to answer numerous, business-altering questions. One of the biggest is simply about hours. How many each week?

Some companies follow the same approach as Reusser, maintaining 40 working hours per week. The tradeoff for longer working days is longer weekends. Other businesses opt to simply reduce hours, adopting the 100/80/100 principle, which equates to 100 percent pay for 80 percent of the standard working time with 100 percent of the output.

All over the world, four-day workweeks are becoming less of an outlier.

All over the world, four-day workweeks are becoming less of an outlier. Well-known brands, like Kickstarter, have already begun test piloting the idea. Additionally, a major experiment kicked off in the UK this summer, involving 3,300 workers across 70 companies. The industries range from financial services to fish and chips. If it succeeds, thousands of employees could enjoy long weekends, every weekend.

A similar trial was conducted in Iceland between 2015 and 2019, involving more than 1 percent of the nation’s entire working population. Researchers did not find a drop in overall productivity, but worker well-being did improve “dramatically.”

According to a survey from Qualtrics, a condensed work schedule is especially popular with employees:
 
  • 92 percent want a four-day workweek
  • 82 percent believe it would make them more productive
  • 79 percent believe it would improve their mental health
  • 37 percent would take a pay cut for a shorter workweek

In that same survey, the only perk more desirable than a four-day workweek is increased freedom to decide when to work. 

A shortened workweek also offers less obvious benefits. For numerous employees, PTO is often eroded by necessary nuisances, like visits to the doctor and dentist. Instead of actual vacations, that precious time off is wasted in waiting rooms. However, with a four-day workweek, employees can schedule appointments during the traditional workweek without losing time off.

Reusser is a marketing agency located in Roanoke that maintains a full-time, four-day workweek.

In the current market that heavily favors job seekers, a shorter workweek could help companies attract talent. According to the not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global, 63 percent of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a four-day workweek.

Additionally, a reduced workweek can also help foster the entrepreneurial spirit of employees. Brittany Halferty, a content strategist at Reusser, runs her own business in addition to working full-time. Her extra day off each week allows her to live a more balanced life.

“One of my favorite things about working at Reusser is the four-day workweek," Halferty says. "It gives me dedicated time to spend on my side hustle. I am a photographer, and before Reusser, my time shooting and editing ate up my weeknights and weekends. With a dedicated day each week to spend on photography, it has freed up my evenings to spend time with my family.”

The value of happy, healthy employees cannot be overstated. While no single solution will be ideal for everyone, an innovative approach to the work schedule may be exactly what workers want. Only time will tell if other Northeast Indiana companies will join Reusser in offering extended weekends.
 
This story is part of a blog series with Reusser.