Science Says 4-Day Work Weeks Could Be A Huge Success For This One Reason

by Julia Guerra

It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday, and instead of heading out to happy hour with a few co-workers, you’re left sitting pretty staring at a computer screen. Your last assignment for the day was probably due an hour ago, but any ounce of motivation you once had has officially flown out the window, alongside any plans you might’ve made for the night. This isn’t because of a lack of work ethic on your part, BTW; in fact, this exact scenario might just further prove a point made by New Zealand researchers that four-day work weeks are more productive than the 40-plus hours you’re putting in Monday through Friday. And TBH, it makes total sense, especially when you consider the fact that Fridays are generally more lax around the office anyway, because both you and your boss know you’re clocking in with low energy and high anticipation for a two-day break.

As someone who’s done the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and recently made the switch to a solid four-day work week, I’ll be the first to tell you: Adding an entire 24 hours to your weekend is a game-changer. I don’t say this because I’m lazy, either. Of course I love having that flexibility in my schedule and more time to myself, but eliminating one day of work from my week has proven immensely beneficial in terms of my performance when I am on the clock. In other words, don’t assume that working four days out of the week instead of five automatically means you’d be working any less diligently — if anything, your time on the grind would likely feel way more productive.

Research shows that four-day work weeks can be extremely beneficial for your performance at the office, so tell your boss to make the switch ASAP.

To find out if less time at the office would actually prove to be beneficial for people's productivity, employees at New Zealand trust business Perpetual Guardian took it upon themselves to experiment with a four-day work week schedule over the course of two months. CNN reports that during this time, the employees at the company who were involved in the experiment were still paid by their standard five-day salaries, but only had to work four days. Sounds pretty sweet, right? So it's really not surprising to hear that, according to the company’s CEO, Andrew Barnes, the employees responded very positively to this experiment. Barnes told CNN,

I'm humbled that my team has responded, and they went beyond my wildest dreams.
What happens [when you establish a four-day work week] is you get a motivated, energized, stimulated, loyal workforce. I have ended up with statistics that indicate my staff are fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn.

The results of this experiment were compared to the findings of a 2017 survey, CNN reports, in which employees said they were only 54 percent capable of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. After just two months of working a four-day work week schedule, those statistics skyrocketed to a whopping 78 percent. What’s more, employees' stress levels went down 7 percent, while engagement in the workplace went up 20 percent.

The numbers are impressive for sure, but as far as doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, is concerned, they aren’t exactly surprising, and that’s because the human brain isn’t really equipped to perform and be at attention during all 40 hours that a typical work week demands. “We perform at our best when we’ve had enough rest, when we have taken care of personal things in our lives, when we are physically, mentally and emotionally in shape, and have just as enough time to attend to these things,” Forshee tells Elite Daily. “We are not meant to be on-task for the amount of time that we are expected in our present-day jobs.”

Yep, you read that correctly, friend. An expert in psychology says working 40 hours every week is not realistic for your brain’s functionality. It’s not an insult to your intelligence, or a lack of faith in your work ethic; it’s a fact. So why aren’t more companies abiding by this brilliant work schedule? Well, I’m afraid that’s another article for another day, but for now, it's up to you to figure out how to maximize your productivity while you're at work.

So how can you be a boss babe in the office Monday through Friday, without losing steam by the end of the week?

Working eight hours a day, five days a week is no small feat, so don’t feel bad or lazy if your motivation dies down somewhere between Monday and Friday. I mean, you heard Dr. Forshee: That end-of-the-week slump is kind of inevitable. Still, it’s your job, and until more companies get on-board with the four-day work week schedule, you have to find ways to persevere.

It’s much easier said than done, I know, but luckily, Dr. Forshee supplied us all with a few ground rules to abide by if you want to feel like a total boss for at least the majority of that 40-hour cap you’re working with. For instance, make sure you’re separating your work space from your living space. “In your home, have a separate location for which you do work versus where you relax and spend time alone or with your family,” she tells Elite Daily, adding that “a clear separation in your home will be more conducive to rest.” In other words, the bedroom is for sleeping, not catching up on emails.

Additionally, try to assign yourself a time of day when you stop answering work emails, texts, or calls, and if you don’t work weekends, then seriously don’t work on the weekend, Forshee says.

Just remember that you work to live, not the other way around, and if, come Friday morning, you're out of commission, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your brain is just as tired as you are, so do the best you can because, really, that’s all you can do.