Shortening work hours might seem counterintuitive for companies that value nimbleness and productivity, and that need to clear their balance sheets, but a large body of evidence suggests that this approach pays dividends. In recent years, hundreds of forward-looking companies have pioneered four-day weeks or six-hour days, without cutting salaries. These companies are big and small, operate in a variety of industries, and are all over the world. They bring everyone together around the challenge of doing five days’ work in four. They’re continually prototyping new tools and practices, and rapidly evaluating the results. They make adjustments as they go.
A shorter workweek helps these companies be more productive, not less, and more attractive to first-rate talent. At Pursuit Marketing, a call center in Glasgow, Scotland, productivity went up 40 percent after the company implemented a four-day week, and annual staff turnover has dropped to an unheard-of 2 percent. Revenues at Woowa Brothers, a Korean online delivery company, have increased more than tenfold since it cut working hours in 2015; even though it’s a start-up, it now competes with giants like Samsung for engineering talent. Michelin-starred restaurants like Baumé, in Palo Alto, California, have moved to four-day weeks to reduce stress on staff. Employees are healthier and use fewer sick days because they have more time to exercise, cook better food, and take better care of themselves. Their work-life balance improves, they’re more focused and creative, and they’re less likely to burn out.