Dinner Table Conversation: Is Four Better Than Five?

November 16, 2019
What if your school decided to conduct an experiment … and for a month, students would attend school for four days a week instead of five? What do you think would happen? Would students pay more attention in class? Would they feel more well-rested? Would they feel stressed because they’d have less time to finish class assignments and homework? Hold that thought …
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Recently, technology company Microsoft conducted an interesting experiment with some of its employees. In August, workers in the company’s Tokyo, Japan office worked a four-day week instead of the usual five. What do you think happened? At first you might conclude that the employees were less productive. After all, doesn’t less time at work mean less time to work on projects and therefore missed deadlines? Perhaps, but what actually happened was that productivity went up by forty percent. That’s right—more, not less, work was being done! And when asked, most employees responded that they were generally happier at work. Scratching your head as to how a shortened workweek can actually increase productivity and general employee happiness? It turns out that employees were more focused and meetings were more efficient as a result of the shortened workweek. Furthermore, because employees were more well-rested from a three-day weekend, they were generally happier when they went back to work. Interesting, right? Microsoft isn’t the first company to experiment with a four-day workweek. In fact, a number of companies from around the world have also experimented with four-day workweeks and found similar results. Is this the wave of the workplace future? Not so fast. Experiments are one thing, but to make the four-day workweek the norm rather the exception will take a lot more research to back up that it truly is the better workweek. Do you think a shorter school week would produce the same results as a shorter workweek? Why or why not?