What do Denmark, Norway, and Sweden all have in common—besides being the happiest countries in the world? They all have standard 30-hour work weeks, which explains why they’re so happy all the time. Employees in these countries work right at or less than 30 hours a week, and still manage to collect a healthy salary (among the highest annual salaries in the world at that). But many countries, including the United States, are hesitant to implement such a concept.
While the idea of a 30-hour (or 4-day) workweek is intriguing, actually implementing one is a whole other story. But why? A shorter workweek has become increasingly more realistic, with the advancement of technology, apps, software, and programs that are specifically designed to increase productivity—not to mention countless data studies that conclude productivity peaks at 30 hours of work. Yet it’s still a somewhat foreign concept.
If you’re considering a shorter workweek for your company, weigh these pros and cons before making a decision.
Pros of a 30-hour work week
As mentioned above, countless studies have shown that employee productivity peaks at about 30 hours per week. So what level of work are you getting from your employees after they’ve reached that threshold? Sure, your team might be able to produce more if they worked those extra 10 hours a week, but if it doesn’t pass quality standards and requires a heavy lift for rework, was it worth it?
More hours worked doesn’t necessarily mean better productivity. There are many companies that already understand that concept, and post on job boards like 30 Hour Jobs to find employees who believe a shorter week can lead to increased productivity and higher job satisfaction.
Amazon made headlines back in 2016 for a new policy it implemented that allowed some employees to work 30 hours a week, but with a lower salary and no change to benefits. This is something you could consider for your team, too. Would you (and your employees) be willing to cut pay by 25% in order to work fewer hours per week? Maybe.
Although the point of the 30-hour week isn’t to work fewer hours for less money—the idea should be that employees receive their same pay—it is a more realistic option for companies looking to give the concept a try.
Health and happiness
Work is stressful. There’s really no way around it. Some days it can be great and everything runs smoothly, and some days it seems like absolutely nothing is going right. There’s a correlation between how many hours you put into your job every week and your health. People who work excessive hours are more prone to things like depression, stroke, heart conditions—which is awful for your employees and expensive for your insurance.
People want to feel like they have a healthy level of work-life balance, and from the employee standpoint, a 30-hour week would certainly help tilt the scale in favor of more life experience. Working 10 fewer hours per week can give employees the flexibility and opportunity to try new things, travel more, collect experiences, and ultimately allow them to take those learnings and bring them back to your company.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, working fewer hours per week might be the key to success for your employees and your business.
The inevitable downside
As with anything good, there are cons too. Here are a few things to consider when toying with the idea of a 30-hour workweek.
Less working time
The most obvious con of a 30-hour workweek is less time spent, well, working. When you chop your traditional 40-hour week down by 10 hours, there’s simply less time spent working. However, we already know that productivity peaks at 30 hours per week, so how quality is the work your employees are doing after that 30-hour peak?
Aside from less time spent in the office, simply being unavailable for when things do come up can be problematic for your growing business. Some projects take longer to execute, regardless of how productive your employees are in executing them.
In a world of near-constant interaction and accessibility, cutting down your working time by 10 hours means your time to answer questions, troubleshoot, or meet with customers is cut down too.
If you offer robust customer service or customer success, you might be limiting the hours that your customers can interact with you. This could cause customers to wait an extra day or two before hearing back about a major problem, which is bad for business and customer longevity.
Poor team communication
If your whole team is around less often and grinding during their 30-hour week to finish their work, it might leave less time for team members to interact with each other on a personal or professional level. Employees can get so caught up during their 4-day week trying to close out all their projects that they become siloed in their own space. Not communicating frequently or effectively with other team members can cause frustration, uncertainty, or more questions than answers.
If you’re ready to give a 30-hour work week a try at your company, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Trainual to make it easier.