Skip to main content

If You Had the Choice, Would You Prefer a Four-Day Workweek?

Sal Santiago writes about travel, minimalism, art, philosophy, and living an alternative lifestyle.

In my mind, a four-day workweek is starting to approach the concept of work-life balance. There really can't be much balance with a five-day workweek. Much too lopsided. You need the first day of your weekend to unwind and begin to recover from the stresses of the workweek. By then, it is already Sunday, and the feeling of dread begins as the beginning of another week approaches.

Ideally, we might have a three-and-a-half-day workweek, with the other three-and-a-half days off. This looks a little fairer. Half the time of the week for a job, and the other half is yours to live. I like that concept.

The five-day workweek is a holdover from the Industrial Revolution. Have we not learned or made any progress since? With all the advances in technology, we are still clinging to these outdated models. It doesn't make any sense if you look at it from the perspective of the idea of "progress" equaling a better quality of life for everyone and more free time.

the-4-day-workweek-work-life-balance-would-you-prefer-a-4-day-workweek

When I was growing up, there used to be talk of how robots would one day do all the work, and this would create a great deal of freedom for people. It was discussed almost as if robots (AI now) would be our liberators. Apparently, the joke was on us, as we commoners would not be partaking in the liberation. Instead, we would be replaced.

The powerful ones, the masters of money, would be the ones reaping all the benefits and enjoying all that free time. As for the rest of us, the new reality might be a cardboard box and learning more about which bugs are edible.

the-4-day-workweek-work-life-balance-would-you-prefer-a-4-day-workweek

These days more people are embracing the idea of working part-time only. What are we here for, anyway? How do we want to spend our short time on this planet?

If you are a creative and would prefer to spend the majority of your time creating art, writing, or playing music, then working part-time makes perfect sense. If it's just a day job and not a calling or a passion, perhaps it should only take up a small portion of your week. Your best hours, your best energy, should ideally be spent doing something you love or just something you enjoy.

The statistics on overwork and burnout clearly show the harm a five-day (and longer with overtime) workweek wreaks on people's mental and physical health. We need more time for rest and leisure pursuits. To spend time in nature. Not spending all day chained to a cubicle, indoors, under artificial light.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

the-4-day-workweek-work-life-balance-would-you-prefer-a-4-day-workweek

My personal experience: After three months of working a four-day workweek schedule, I'm not sure I can go back to a five-day one. I'm still putting in 40 hours each week, with three 11-hour days and one short day. I love having the extra day of freedom each week. Who wouldn't? I feel I have ample time to really rest and take care of myself and pursue my own interests.

Working in the seasonal work world, is different from the year-round careers many people have. We plan to work a lot for a period of time during the busy summer or winter tourist season, then schedule a long chunk of time off (See Coolworks.com if you are interested).

I've met a few people who work six months of the year, then take the other six months off. Many people plan a one or two month break between seasonal jobs. The drawback, not all of us have health benefits, unless we take care of this ourselves.

If you are planning to just work part-time, the challenge is making enough to pay all your bills and survive. It has become more difficult as the cost-of-living skyrockets. More and more, the system ensnares us in the 9–5 world, and we need to find alternative ways of living.

True wellness, good health, and having work-life balance cannot really co-exist with a 40-plus-hour workweek.

For now, the four-day workweek is one of the best options if you are still going to work a 40-hour week. All jobs should have the option for this schedule. The five-day workweek is unnecessary and makes for an unhealthy population. Alcoholism, drug abuse, unhealthy eating, broken relationships, depression, and suicide are the results. The long-term health effects will catch up to many of us down the road.

Instituting the option of a four-day schedule for everyone, would at least be a start and come a little closer to offering people a true work-life balance. Of course, I'm not holding my breath for this to ever come about. There is too much profit for a few in keeping the gears grinding and the people imprisoned in a five-day, 40-plus-hour workweek. The energy harvesting machine must continue feeding itself on your energy, your mind, spirit, and your well-being.

Though the screws of rent and cost of living are tightening, many of us are seeking ways to drop out of this arrangement, and focus on living well, and living life more on our terms. It will require some creativity and living a more minimalist lifestyle. The pandemic was a catalyst for many. Hopefully this trend will continue.

A few stats:

Belgium passed laws in 2022 to give employees the option of a four-day workweek. Iceland is considering this as well, with 86% of employees working 36-hour weeks. Other countries beginning to experiment with this idea include Scotland, Sweden, and Spain.

Germany is trying this in certain sectors (mostly start-ups), and larger companies in Japan are trying it as well. A study by an Icelandic non-profit and a British think-tank found that the well-being of employees improved significantly. Productivity either stayed the same or improved.

Related Articles