Americans would prefer a four-day, ten-hour workweek

Jamie BallardData Journalist
July 15, 2021, 8:00 PM GMT+0

Researchers in Iceland recently completed large-scale trials where employees worked a four-day week instead of the typical five-day work schedule. Their findings suggested that a shorter workweek led to an increase in employees’ well-being and did not negatively affect workers’ productivity levels.

New data from YouGov suggests that most Americans would also welcome a four-day workweek, and many employees believe this change would lead to an increase in productivity.

In a poll of more than 23,000 people, about two-thirds (67%) say that if they were working full-time and their pay would be unchanged, they would prefer to have a four-day workweek with 10-hour days. (Note: the Iceland trials did not involve employees working longer hours over a shorter number of days, but rather reducing their schedules from 40 hours a week to 35-36 hours a week).

One in five (21%) Americans would prefer to stick to the standard five-day, 8-hour workweek.

Among those who are currently working full-time jobs, 72% say they would prefer a four-day workweek while 22% would opt for a five-day schedule.

In a November 2019 poll asking the same question, the same percentage of Americans (67%) said they would prefer to have a four-day workweek.

Could shorter workweeks increase productivity?

As part of the trials conducted in Iceland, researchers measured productivity levels of the participants. They found that “on the whole, indicators of service provision and productivity either stayed within expected levels of variation, or rose during the period of the trial.”

Americans tend to think this would be the case at their jobs as well. Two in five (41%) working Americans say a four-day workweek would increase their productivity levels. A similar number (37%) think this wouldn’t increase or decrease their productivity, while 9% believe a shorter workweek would have a negative impact on their productivity levels.

Among those who have any level of management responsibility at their job (meaning they have people who work directly for them), 45% think their productivity levels would rise if they had a shorter workweek. Slightly fewer (39%) think it would be about the same, and 9% think their productivity would decrease. Among those who do not have management responsibility, 37% think their productivity level would increase, while a similar number (40%) think it would remain about the same.

See full results here.

Related: Is job advice from Baby Boomers outdated?

Methodology: 23,479 US adults were surveyed between June 28 and July 5, 2021. The responding sample is weighted to be representative of the US population.

Image: The Gender Spectrum Collection

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