Most Americans support a four-day workweek — but can U.S. work culture handle it?

New Harris poll: Gen Xers say they’d be more productive in a shorter workweek, followed by boomers and millennials.

What if instead of TGIF, it was Thank Goodness It’s Thursday? If it were up to a large majority of Americans, that would not only make them more productive at work but improve well-being in general.

About 73 percent of U.S. adults believe they’d be more productive in their job if they worked four days a week instead of five, according to exclusive polling data from the Harris Poll.

Majority believes they’d be more productive in a four-day workweek

In the U.S., 80 percent of Gen Xers say they’d be much or somewhat more productive at work in a four-day (instead of five-day) workweek — that’s 8 or more percentage points higher than any other generation.

Millennials and boomers came in around 70 percent saying they’d be more productive in a four-day workweek, and those in Gen Z, who range in age from 18-25 and notably haven’t been in the workforce very long, came in with the lowest level at 64 percent.

Where people work doesn’t seem to be a major factor in whether someone thinks they’d be more productive in a shorter week. There was no statistical difference among polling results from remote, hybrid and in-person workers.

Does a four-day workweek … work?

And what about productivity?

A nonprofit, 4 Day Week Global, launched four-day workweek pilots in several countries this year, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Trials generally last six months.

One of the trials, which included 903 workers employed in 33 companies primarily in the United States and Ireland, wrapped up last month. The basic idea was that workers would work a compressed workweek: 80 percent of their typical weekly hours while keeping the same pay and productivity.

A new kind of workweek is here to stay for some

Business leaders also came away with positive feelings. Of the 27 companies (out of 33) that completed the final survey, 18 plan on continuing shorter workweeks. As of when the report was released, the other companies still hadn’t released their final decisions, but all but one was leaning toward maintaining reduced schedules.

Other trials have seen similar successes.

To make it work, workers might have the option to take off the fifth day, to shave off an hour of each workday or to take every other Friday off.

Since covid, other countries — including Scotland, Japan, New Zealand, Finland and Spain — and many private companies in those countries have proposed taking the leap or at least launching trials.

Challenges to implementing a shorter workweek

It has also meant taking a hard look at what meetings could be eliminated or shortened (and figuring out what really could have just been an email). Employees might also take doctor’s appointments outside of work hours. But it also sometimes meant that employees might still work longer hours on weeks when they had a Friday off to get everything done, the Time article said.

So, while working shorter hours with improved well-being and productivity might have sounded too good to be true, it might not be as far in the distant future as you might think.

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