Detroit Today: What a 4-day workweek would mean for productivity and quality of life

Four-day work weeks could be a win-win for employers and employees, according to two scholars who’ve studied the model.

The 40-hour workweek has been the tradition in the U.S. for decades, but new data shows there could be an alternative option.

A recent study by four-Day Week Global tested whether reducing the workweek to 32 hours while still paying employees the same amount could be beneficial for both workers and their employers.

This comes as Maryland introduced a House bill for a four-day workweek. Iceland has also experimented with the practice between 2015 and 2019.

Boston College sociology professor Wen Fan and University of Michigan business professor Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks joined Detroit Today to discuss how a four-day workweek could impact Americans.

Listen: What a 32-hour work week could look like


Wen Fan is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College, and a lead expert on a trial studying four-day workweeks. She says that both blue and white-collar environments could benefit from reducing hours by eight each week.

“It is precisely those so-called blue-collar jobs — manufacturing, construction and so on — they tend to see the greatest reduction in work hours and also the greatest improvement in employee well-being and job quality metrics,” says Fan.

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is a behavioral scientist and Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. He says work is being reimagined since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The data being accumulated now is bolstering the sense that it’s unnecessary to just push towards a pre-2020 approach to work,” says Sanchez-Burks. “There’s an opportunity to not only have the flexibility to spend personal time as you wish, there’s people who need a second job and need the flexibility to do that.”

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »