While remote work and hybrid work have dominated the workplace lately, another flexible work option has emerged: 4-day workweeks.
This is a flexible schedule that allows employees a third day off, with typical hours ranging from 32-40 hours of work per week. Some organizations still want you to reach those standard 40 hours, but others are sticking to just 8-hour days, 4-days per week, and no pay reduction.
Workers seem to be in overwhelming favor of this schedule. In a survey by Qualtrics, they found that 92% of U.S. workers are in favor of the shortened workweek.
Today, different countries are testing 4-day workweeks, although it has not been fully adopted nor is it an actual law anywhere quite yet. And it’s both private and public companies that are starting to test this work concept out.
Let’s take a look at some countries that are encouraging or calling for shorter workweeks.
22 Countries Exploring 4-Day Workweeks
Not every business in each country is testing 4-day workweeks, however more are giving this a shot. And some laws have even been proposed to introduce this concept country or state-wide.
Although no country is required by law yet, it seems there may be some interesting reforms happening. It will be interesting to see over the next few years!
Below are the countries where you can find companies offering 4-day workweeks to their employees or where people and lawmakers are pushing for shorter work week pilots.
1. Belgium 🇧🇪
Those working in Belgium have the right to move into a 4-day workweek. Additionally, they are working on a reform that gives employees the right to turn off work devices and ignore work messages after hours without facing discipline from their workplace. More info here.
2. Canada 🇨🇦
More than a dozen companies based in Canada are experimenting with a 4-day workweek. The country joined the 4 Day Week Global pilot. This is a popular initiative to make work better and help companies join and test this movement. More info here.
3. United States 🇺🇸
Similar to Canada, various companies in the United States have also worked on their policies to include 4-day workweeks. Many are running pilot programs, whereas others have made a more recent permanent switch, like Buffer.
4. Denmark 🇩🇰
According to an OECD report, Denmark has the 2nd shortest average workweek in the world at around 33 hours per week. A few Danish companies have been exploring this work concept for the last three years or so. More info here.
5. Germany 🇩🇪
One of the largest trade unions in Germany has been campaigning for 4-day workweeks to better the economy, especially after Covid-19. This is In addition to having one of the shortest work weeks in the world (34hrs) already. More info here.
6. Iceland 🇮🇸
Iceland was part of the large-scale test on 4-day workweeks and saw great success. In the pilot, employees were more productive and happy when the results were studied. Now, a large portion of Icelandic employees have shorter weeks or have the right to request shorter working hours. More info here.
7. Ireland 🇮🇪
Various Irish businesses have signed up to trial 4-day workweeks through 2022. If all goes well, more companies may make a permanent move to shorter workweeks for their employees. There is a whole website dedicated to this initiative in Ireland even! More info here.
8. Lithuania 🇱🇹
For Lithuania, the country did something a bit different when it comes to fewer workdays. Under the new policy for 2023, any public-sector employees with children under the age of three will be allowed to work 32 hours a week without a reduction in their salaries. More info here.
9. Netherlands 🇳🇱
In 2016, the Netherlands wanted to better improve work/life balance for their working citizens. Employees are able to request a change to their working times and their workplace. Employees can request to work from home and reduce their hours. The average working hours per week is about 30 in the Netherlands. More info here.
10. Spain 🇪🇸
In early 2021, Spain’s government became one of the leaders in wanting to trial 4-day workweeks. The country has even dedicated resources and funding to help companies interested in piloting this work policy. More info here.
11. Switzerland 🇨🇭
A few small businesses in Switzerland have closed their offices on Fridays, giving the shorter workweek a try. Not everyone in the country is fully-convinced of this option, but there are continued talks of other companies exploring it. More info here.
12. United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪
In 2022, the United Arab Emirates moved federal employees to a 4.5-day workweek. For those employees, the new weekend runs from Friday 12 p.m. until Sunday night. Additional government support was provided and more private sector companies may start exploring too. More info here.
13. United Kingdom 🇬🇧
In 2022, the United Kingdom was one of 30+ companies that began a 4-day workweek trial. This program will be for six months to analyze results. Additionally, employees will only have to work 32 hours per week and their salaries and benefits remain the same as a 40-hour week. More info here.
14. Austria 🇦🇹
Austria has the 6th shortest average workweek at oud 35.5 hours, according to the OECD report. Additionally, a survey found that in Austria, 85% of young people desire flexible working hours.
15. Scotland 🏴
One of Scotland’s largest trade unions has put forth that the Scottish Government “lead the way” with the introduction of a country-wide four-day working week. And this concept is getting overwhelming support from government employees too. More info here.
16. Japan 🇯🇵
In 2021 during Japan’s annual economic policy guidelines, they revealed a push for 4-day workweeks. This stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the goal of this change would be to better support employees to enable them to further their education, take care of family members, or simply have personal time. More info here.
17. Finland 🇫🇮
Sanna Marin, The Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland, proposed a 4-day work week with 6-hour workdays as the future. Cool to see more people in government beyond companies leaders showing an interest in adjusting labor laws. More info here.
18. India 🇮🇳
In India, there is the potential for new labor law to pass in the next year or two, which includes 4-day workweeks, wages, social security, industrial relations, and occupational safety. However, the downside is that more hours will need to be worked on those days, as they do not have a law to lower the number of hours. More info here.
19. Wales 🏴
Sarah Howes, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, called for the Welsh government to launch 4-day workweek trials. While only for the public sector, I’m sure more companies will jump on board or begin trialing a shorter week. More info here.
20. Norway 🇳🇴
While Norway doesn’t have anything official about 4-day workweeks, employees only work an average of 33 hours per week, according to OECD data report. Time will tell if more companies based here will talk about official 4-day weeks. More info here.
21. Sri Lanka 🇱🇰
The Sri Lanka Central Bank recommended 4-day workweeks that would allow employees to arrive at work at 9 AM and leave by 3 PM. Much of the interest is to slow down fuel usage and other economic reasons. More info here.
22. New Zealand 🇳🇿
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested employers consider a 4-day working week and other flexible options to boost their economy and work/life balance. She sees this as a way to improve productivity and stimulate New Zealand’s domestic tourism. More info here.
Looking for a 4-day Workweek Job?
Since the concept is fairly new and is being introduced in limited places, finding a 4-day workweek job can be competitive. But more organizations are offering this option and it’s even something you can negotiate during a job interview.
One place to start is our list of companies offering 4-day workweeks currently. Some might be hiring currently, but these are organizations to keep on your radar.
Your best bet is to monitor remote job boards, where many organizations posting jobs there are already more open-minded. You’ll be able to search for a 4-day workweek or flexible schedules.
If you can’t find a 4-day workweek job, look for companies offering flex Fridays as well. These are companies that encourage more optional Fridays, either for deep work or no meeting distractions.
This can give you a taste of 4-day workweeks and still give you more freedom.
Happy Flexible Working!