- Companies from Microsoft to Shake Shack have experimented with a four-day workweek to improve productivity and work-life balance.
- Some of these companies have said the shorter week has made it easier to focus on important tasks.
- Others, like educational coding startup Treehouse, found that it made it challenging to uphold a solid work ethic.
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With the rise of popular work chat apps like Slack and easy access to corporate email 24/7 through our smartphones, breaking away from work can feel more difficult than ever.
At the same time, employee burnout appears to be on the rise. In a study of 75,000 employees published last year in June, Gallup found that 23% of workers reported feeling burned out always or very often at work, while another 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. A study of 614 human resources leaders conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace in 2017 also found that nearly half of those surveyed said burnout is the cause of up to half of their yearly workforce turnover.
Now, it seems a growing number of companies are hoping to combat that trend by finding ways to improve work-life balance — most notably by experimenting with a four-day workweek. While the four-day workweek is still far from common, it certainly seems to be growing in popularity.
Fifteen percent of the 60,000 US companies that participated in the Society For Human Resource Management’s survey conducted in April 2019 said they offer a four-day workweek of 32 hours or less. That’s up from 13% in 2017 and 12% in 2018. What’s more, the organizations that have implemented this shorter workweek didn’t report a decrease in productivity or revenue, the study says.
Microsoft made headlines recently when it published the results of a trial it held at a subsidiary in Japan, during which it closed its offices every Friday during the month of August. The company found that doing so led to a 40% boost in productivity.
Here’s a look at other major companies that have tried switching to a four-day workweek, from Shake Shack to Uniqlo.