Some US companies explore 4-day work week as COVID-19 sparks re-evaluation of working norms

The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed how millions of Americans do their jobs. Now it may change how many days a week Americans do their jobs.

"Who chose 40 hours? Who chose five days?" Uncharted CEO and co-founder Banks Benitez said. Benitez and his company are just one of many re-evaluating the work week.

Justine Jordan of Wildbit said the 40-hour work week dates back to the 1920s.

"Working 40 hours per week really came from Henry Ford. Before that, people were working 100 hours per week in factories," Jordan said.

Companies testing out the 4-day work week are measuring their employees productivity rate and evaluating if they're still hitting revenue and profit targets.

"We're producing the same amount of quality of work, maybe even more so because we're more focused on what's important," Jordan said.

Jordan and Benitez said the key is working smarter not harder.

"The four-day day work week is about becoming better prioritizers," Benitez said.

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"We really only do four or five hours of meaningful work at any given day," Jordan said. "That's not to say that checking email and going to meetings aren't important, the best thing is that we have these four days of very focused time."

But the four-day work week isn't a magic wand that works for every company in every industry.

Rebecca Brooks of Alter Agents said it actually made her employees more stressed and less productive.

"Because of the type of work we do, we couldn't just shut the office down for a day. So we have to do this rotation schedule (and) they felt that they were leaving their teammates hanging," Brooks said.

Instead, Brooks decided to offer each employee an extra day off each month.
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