Five companies in the US that have a four-day workweek
While an increasing number of companies in the United States are offering a four-day workweek, questions surrounding equity and access to the benefit remain open.
The results are in! Many companies in the United States and abroad that have piloted the four-day workweek will not return to their previous schedules after seeing benefits for both staff and their bottom line.
In the United States, there are a growing number of firms offering a shorter workweek to make it easier for workers to balance their work and personal lives. By lowering the number of hours worked, companies have seen increases in productivity which can translate to greater profits or, in the case of non-profits, greater efficiency.
However, one detail overlooked in the discourse on the four-day workweek is the types of companies that make the switch and, subsequently, the workers that would be offered the benefit. Take the widely publicized study conducted by the research group Autonomy which looked at pilots for sixty-one firms, of which ninety-two percent said they are “continuing with the four-day week.” But when looking at the firms of companies included, very few were sectors with a high number of hourly workers: Marketing/Advertising (18 percent), Professional Services (16 percent), Charity/Non-profit Admin (11 percent), IT & Telecoms (9 percent), Educational services (9 percent), Finance and Insurance (9 percent), and Healthcare or social assistance (9 percent). Additionally, ninety percent of the workers included in the study were “White British or White Other,” highlighting a racialized element to the types of workers that are being offered such a benefit.
Which companies in the US are offering a four-day workweek?
Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is also piloting a four-day workweek with a hybrid remote team, meaning that those who work in warehouses or delivery are left out. Interestingly, the layoffs that Amazon has announced over the last few months have been from the corporate side of the company, not the warehouse and distribution. The group of workers in the latter category are the true drivers of Amazon’s value since, without them, the company would not be able to function. The exclusion of these lower-paid workers is indicative of the wider exclusion of low-wage, less professionalized workers from these programs that have shown to have major improvements for one’s mental and physical well-being. What becomes clear is that if those benefits do not translate to increased profits, those workers will not be offered a reduction in their hours.
Bolt, the fin-tech company, has announced that they are working to turn “Fridays into something more like Saturdays or Sundays,” providing “genuine time off, with no planned meetings or work.”
Buffer, the social media software company, implemented a four-day workweek in 2020 and stuck with it after seeing how it created a more positive work culture without reducing productivity. In 2022, Buffer’s Director of People, Nicole Miller, reflected on the change and mentioned that “91% of our team are happier and more productive working four days a week.”
Executives at thredUp, the online consignment store, have also opted for a shorter workweek. CEO James Reinhart published an article in Insider where he explained that the company’s “corporate salaried employees work Monday through Thursday.” The situation for “distribution workers” is less clear, with Reinhart explaining that they “have more flexibility around the hours they work.”
However, a job posting for a Clothing Warehouse Associate ($17 - $18/hour) —a role on the distribution side— does not list greater flexibility as a benefit. Instead, the posting says the company offers a “consistent, set schedule!” Another distribution-focused role being advertised, ‘Inventory Control Lead’ (no salary data provided), notes that the company offers a “Hybrid work environment” (three days from the office, one day from home). Upon closer inspection, the desirability of the job drops since the role still requires forty hours of work a week, which are expected to be carried out on Monday through Thursday from 6:00am-4:30pm (10 and a half hour days!). Additionally, the company states that one may need to work overtime and that the “work schedule may require you to be flexible working different hours during the week.”
On thredUp’s corporate side, a Growth Marketing Specialist can make between $86,000 to $100,000 a year only working four days a week, and nowhere does the posting say that more than eight hours of work a day would be required. While Reinhart said that the four-day work week has “helped [them to] deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging,” it is hard to understand how considering the inequities in the types of jobs offered the benefit.
Seasonal option for a four-day workweek
Basecamp, the online platform to help independent artists promote their music, has implemented a four-day workweek for their employees during the summer months, running from 1 May through 31 August 31.