Pros and Cons of the Four-Day Workweek

Towards the end of 2022, a pilot program was conducted in the UK with over 70 companies, and it changed the way we think about the future of work. This was the largest experiment of its kind: more than 3,300 empldoyees were invited to switch to a four-day workweek without a pay cut. And it was a success. Once the results were published —supported and coordinated by esteemed institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Oxford, and Boston College— the future looked brighter. Now, this model is being exported to other Western countries to see if it’s just as effective there.

In Spain, the reduction to a four-day workweek happened two years earlier, in January 2020. DELSOL, an Andalusian software company, was the first to try out this new model of work. According to Ana Arroyo, the company’s Head of People Selection and Development, “it all began when we surveyed the staff to find out what they valued the most when working for a company. The majority responded that work-life balance was important so that they could have free time and be with their family. So, we got to work,” she said.

The path towards this new system is still somewhat unclear. However, it’s certain that remote work will be a crucial part of it, an option that gained significant momentum post-pandemic and that seems to be here to stay. In recent years, society has been experiencing rapid changes and challenges that need to be addressed, not only because of the consequences brought about by economic crises, pandemics, wars, inflation and an uncertainty, but also due to the needs of the population.

Younger generations no longer see work as the sole path to self-fulfillment. The old adage “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” no longer holds true for many. This shift in thinking has led to changes in the traditional organization of the labor market, with new types of jobs emerging that are unconventional, independent and often pay less than those of previous generations.

What are the implications of promoting a 4-day workweek?


Pilot tests conducted in several European countries have shown that implementing a 4-day workweek has multiple benefits:

  • Greater productivity: “A happy worker is much more productive and will therefore always help the company grow,” says Arroyo.
  • Less stress and illnesses: “We’ve seen that the reduction in the workweek has decreased absenteeism due to health reasons in the company. Between this and remote working, we’ve noticed much fewer absences because people plan better,” argues Arroyo.
  • Better work environment: “We have also seen how camaraderie has improved and therefore the work environment,” says Arroyo.
  • Increase in employment: The four-day workweek means an increase in the number of employees, but according to DELSOL, this translates into reinvestment. “We had to increase the workforce by 25% to be able to reach rotation shifts. We remain open for five days, but our philosophy is that we always work four,” explains the HR manager of DELSOL.
  • Energy savings: Expenses for electricity, transportation and gasoline are reduced. Therefore, pollution in cities is reduced.
  • Better work-life balance: “Having more time to balance work and personal life means a bonus of happiness for everyone. The week is approached differently because there is time to do things, especially for people balancing motherhood and work/family responsibilities,” adds Arroyo.

Some of the most notable challenges include:

  • Great Investment: Maintaining the same salary is perhaps one of the most important issues. More than a disadvantage, it is a goal to achieve. Working fewer hours (32 instead of 40) while maintaining the same salary has been quite a challenge, but as the HR manager of Delsol explains, this decision must be determined by the company: “At Delsol, we made a big investment, but we believe it was an investment in the future. We haven’t noticed any decline, on the contrary, we have increased our revenue. That’s why we’re not going to go back. But I insist, it’s a big investment and it may not work for other companies.” There’s no single model applicable to all sectors, as it will depend on the type of company and its corresponding compensation. “Not all companies can afford to pay the same salaries for fewer hours,” she concludes.


  • Sectors with more complications: A point that is in line with the previous one. Hospitality, healthcare, and education are more sensitive to having greater difficulties in carrying out the weekly reduction.


  • Increased workload:  Employees who suffer a disproportionate workload will have to assume that same workload in fewer hours. This could lead to greater risks of stress or anxiety.


  • An initiative still to be defined for everyone: The Spanish Official Gazette (BOE) published last February the launch of a pilot program so that a total of 70 SMEs can implement the reduction. The measure, launched by the Ministry of Industry, has an investment of 150,000 euros and will be in force for two years to test its effectiveness. Until then, everything indicates that we will have to continue waiting for a common framework to regulate it for everyone.

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