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Is a Four Day Workweek Useful to Reduce Climate Impact?
Blog...Is a Four Day Workweek Useful to Reduce Climate Impact?

Is a Four Day Workweek Useful to Reduce Climate Impact?

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A four day work sounds beneficial for employees in order to create better work-life balance, but could it also prove beneficial to the environment and reducing emissions?
happy smiling employees

Remote work has taken much of the world by storm: with a whopping 16% of companies around the world becoming fully remote, but the problem is that employees don’t want to stop at flexible hours anymore – they want a four day workweek. 

However, it isn’t just employees who could benefit from a four day workweek – but maybe even the entire planet.

Mondays are often a dreadful day of the week, and Fridays are often thought of as a fast approaching finish line where less work is required – does this serve as a sign that a four day workweek could be beneficial to companies and employee productivity alike?

How could a four day workweek help to reduce the impact companies are prone to putting on the environment?

What is a four day workweek and why is there interest in a shorter workweek?

A four day workweek is exactly what it sounds like: a four day workweek where the days employees would be required to work would decrease from five days to four, with employees being granted an additional day off – most likely having Fridays off. This allows employees to enjoy a three-day weekend, every weekend – while still creating a work schedule that permits both employees and the company to be productive.

Many are interested in the idea of a four day workweek in order to boost productivity in addition to creating better work-life balance – something many large corporations in the U.S. struggle with, even following post-pandemic and new remote working habits. In fact, many Americans have fallen subject to working even more due to remote working, as they may no longer fall subject to a commute and see it as a better use of their time to spend the hours they would’ve been driving to and from work to work more. 

Some countries have already implemented a four day workweek, such as Belgium – with employees having the option to switch to a four day workweek. It may seem more difficult for the U.S. to implement a four day workweek into their company models – but could it prove beneficial to the environment?

long highway in a city

How could a four day workweek benefit climate change?

There are several ways in which a four day workweek could benefit. Right off the bat, employees will spend one day less per week commuting to their place of work if they have a four day workweek – resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions given the majority of Americans use their cars to drive to the office. This also means that people are less likely to purchase food or spend money on a lunch out on Friday – which could very well be a meal that is high in carbon emissions. In addition to this, many people at work may pack a lunch but fail to finish it – leading to more food waste.  

The fact is, even if people work remotely – a four day workweek would mean those laptops or WiFi routers are being used or draining power would be turned off for an entire day less than normal. That’s a day less of intensive streaming conference calls or cranking up the air conditioning all the way during the work day in the midst of pique summer months to focus.

However, it can be argued on the flip side that technology will still be running for the same amount of time with a four day workweek as opposed to a traditional – as the technology will still be running for more hours as people have to reorganise their schedules to accommodate a four day workweek. While this is viable, studies have shown that a four day workweek can help to increase employee productivity – meaning that those extra hours on the laptop won’t be necessary anyways.

A four day workweek wouldn’t just be better for the planet – but for people, too.

people in sunset

What are the benefits of a four day workweek?

There could be many benefits for companies that aim to implement a four day workweek, the overarching one being that it provides employees with a better work-life balance – something that many American companies struggle to provide for their employees. 

A four day workweek means that employees would get to have a three day work week, which could prove useful as it allows them to do more of the things they enjoy in their personal lives as well as to adequately recharge for the work week ahead. It may seem counterintuitive, but a four day workweek could actually elicit more productive and motivated employees – as they will have balance in their lives. 

In addition to this, it can help employees to better manage their own finances as well – as studies have shown that  a four day workweek allows for more free time for employees to spend with their families and friends, it can result in less impulse purchases that could be done as an attempts to compensate for how much they work. When employees are given more time to spend time with people they care about, they stop using their money to buy things for short-term satisfaction – as a four day workweek allows them to cultivate long-term habits that will result in a more rewarding type of long-term pleasure. 

No one wants to be working all of the time – even if it is their passion. In the U.S., we already spend 40 of the 168 hours in a week (not including the hours taken away from sleeping) – working. It’s simple, working less will make us happier, and with less commuting and electricity usage – the climate will be happier, too.

What are the cons of a four day workweek?

Of course, there are cons to be had with a four day workweek, too – such as businesses being open one day less per week, which leaves less opportunity and availability for customers to seek the products or services of the company. 

👉 Therefore, one of the biggest downsides to a four day workweek is that it could hinder the financial progress of the company, as it slims the chances of customers being able to be given those products or services. 

Friday’s are usually a celebratory day at the office, with people treating themselves to a lunch or end-of-week traditions to be had amongst co-workers. Therefore, a four day workweek can also lead to less sociable and connected employees – something that is imperative for companies that want to cultivate a successful, productive, and bonded team. 

In addition to this, something to be wary of a four day workweek is that the benefits may “wear off” over time, as the employees are eventually going to adjust to their new schedules, and may fall into similar work and personal patterns as they had before that will not allow them to reap the full benefits of a four day workweek. Also, some employees may feel strained with longer working hours in order to allot for a four day workweek – which could result in employees feeling stressed, and achieve the opposite goal of a four day workweek. 

It is fair to be opposed to a four day workweek, and luckily – there are other measures that freelancers and salaried employees can take to reduce their carbon footprint if their company isn’t keen on implementing a four day workweek.

employees at kitchen table

What are some other ways to reduce the climate impact of a company without implementing a four day workweek?

If a four day workweek doesn’t look possible at your company, the good thing is that there are a few other things you can do to reduce the climate impact of your company while still accomplishing many of the environmental benefits to be had with a four day workweek. 

For instance, offering employees the opportunity to work remotely can help to reduce emissions: as less employees will be creating a carbon footprint commuting to the office, less energy required to run the offices or central heating and air conditioning systems, and use less electricity to power computers employees use to work on. In a sense, remote working allows employees to contribute to scope 4 emissions – or avoided emissions by a company.

person in bed with coffee on computer

Another popular technique becoming popular amongst freelancers and entrepreneurs is front loading work schedules. This is a technique of working where workers who have the ability to control their own schedule will “front load” their work weeks by working the longest on Monday, another long day on Tuesday, and average days on Wednesday and Thursday. Front loading your work week can create a similar effect to a four day workweek – as it can allow little or next to no work on Fridays, and reduce the need for an employee to commute to the office or create carbon emissions from at-home work one day less per week just like a traditional four day workweek. 

Companies can also strive to offer more flexibility and holidays for their employees, and especially seeing as the majority of companies in the U.S. only offer two weeks of vacation time max per year – it is understandable that some could view a four day workweek as the answer to better work-life balance. However, this can be achieved if companies allow for more vacation time and adjustable working hours – creating better personal lives for employees, retaining productivity, and ultimately working towards developing new sustainable habits with more well-rested employees. 

Ultimately, a four day workweek isn’t the only way for companies to reduce their emissions and overall climate impact – but it is certainly an approach that could prove beneficial to employees and companies physically, mentally, and financially alike.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about how a four day workweek could prove useful in reducing emissions and fighting against climate change has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be hard to identify which scope emissions are contributing to the large carbon footprint created by your company whether you have a four day workweek or not, but Greenly can help you take the concrete action necessary to properly determine where – click here to book a demo and get started with your climate journey today. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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