The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Work Week

June 11, 2024
Posted by
Ernest "BJ" Beaver

The concept of a 4-day work week has gained significant attention in recent years, fueled by shifting workplace dynamics, technological advancements, and a growing focus on work-life balance. While the idea of a shorter work week appeals to many, it comes with both advantages and disadvantages. This article explores the pros and cons of a 4-day work week to provide a balanced view of its potential impact on businesses and employees. 

Current Case Study: San Juan County Washington 

In October 2023, San Juan County, Washington, in conjunction with their local union, launched a 32-hour work week for all county employees, excluding the sheriff’s department. Six months later, SJC reports that positions are being filled 62% faster, separations have dropped by 46%, 83% of the staff report a better work-life balance, and sick leave has decreased by 31%. 

Despite these positive outcomes, officials in SJC still cite challenges with the new 32-hour work week. Identified challenges include adjusting to the new schedule, sustaining front-desk coverage and maintaining productivity. Additionally, 12% of managers reported experiencing stress due to managing productivity under the new guidelines. 

Read the full report.

Pros of a 4-Day Work Week 

Improved Work-Life Balance 

  • More Personal Time: Employees benefit from an extra day off, allowing more time for personal activities, family and rest. This can lead to improved mental and physical well-being. 
  • Increased Productivity: Studies suggest that a shorter work week can lead to higher productivity levels. Employees tend to be more focused and efficient when they know they have limited time to complete their tasks. 

Employee Satisfaction and Retention 

  • Higher Job Satisfaction: Employees often report higher job satisfaction when they have a better work-life balance. This can translate into lower turnover rates and higher employee morale. 
  • Attracting Talent: Companies offering a 4-day work week can attract top talent seeking flexibility and a better quality of life, giving them a competitive edge in the job market. 

Cost Savings 

  • Reduced Operational Costs: Businesses can save on utilities, maintenance, and other operational costs with one less day of work. This can also lead to lower expenses for employees, such as commuting and childcare costs. 
  • Environmental Benefits 
  • Lower Carbon Footprint: With fewer commuting days, there is a reduction in traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, contributing positively to the environment. 


Cons of a 4-Day Work Week 

Compressed Work Schedule 

  • Longer Work Days: To maintain the same number of working hours, employees might have to work longer days. This can lead to fatigue and decreased productivity, especially towards the end of extended workdays. 
  • Work Overload: Condensing the workload of five days into four can result in increased stress and pressure, potentially negating the benefits of a shorter work week. 

Challenges in Customer Service and Business Operations 

  • Reduced Availability: Businesses operating on a 4-day schedule may face challenges in providing continuous customer service and support. This can be particularly problematic for industries that require round-the-clock availability. 
  • Coordination Issues: Coordinating with partners, suppliers, and clients who operate on a traditional 5-day work week can be challenging, leading to potential delays and miscommunications. 

Potential for Inequality 

  • Sector-Specific Limitations: Not all industries can adopt a 4-day work week. Essential services, healthcare, and retail, for instance, require continuous operations, making it difficult to implement such a schedule universally. 
  • Unequal Access: Employees in different roles within the same organization may experience unequal access to a 4-day work week, potentially leading to resentment and decreased morale among those who cannot participate. 

Implementation Costs 

  • Transition Challenges: Shifting to a 4-day work week requires careful planning and restructuring. Initial implementation can be costly and time-consuming, with potential disruptions to business operations during the transition period. 


The 4-day work week presents a range of benefits, including improved work-life balance, increased employee satisfaction, cost savings, and environmental advantages. However, it also poses challenges such as longer workdays, potential service disruptions, sector-specific limitations, and implementation costs. 

For businesses considering this model, it's crucial to weigh these pros and cons carefully and to tailor the approach to their specific needs and circumstances. With thoughtful implementation, a 4-day work week can lead to a more satisfied, productive, and loyal workforce, while also addressing some of the inherent challenges. 

Source: San Juan County, Washington. (2023, October). 32-Hour Work Week Six Month Report. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://ehq-production-us-california.s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/630ccb7e7e67e890e895cdc8030b7a15be2a9249/original/1714516734/cbea6ab1edd6a27fc2a5b792e4414eea_32HWW_Six_Month_Report_Digital_Version_%281%29.pdf 

About Partnership Grand Strand
Partnership Grand Strand is a 501c3 foundation launched in 2022 by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to fund a five-year economic and community development initiative. Through investments from local businesses and partnerships with community organizations, the foundation leads and supports efforts related to four pillars of success: prosperity, talent, place and infrastructure. Through their focused endeavors, Partnership Grand Strand works to accelerate economic prosperity and enhance quality of life across Horry and Georgetown counties. 
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