The 32-Hour Work Week
What is a 32-hour work week?
The most common 32-hour work week is Monday – Thursday, eight hours per day. The 32-hour work week phrase is used in three scenarios: 1) a full-time work schedule for four-day week companies, 2) a schedule for part-time employees, 3) a bill proposed in California, AB 2932, to change the standard work week from 40 to 32 hours.
I’ve worked 32 hours per week since January 2020 at a small, remote marketing agency. We had worked a 36-hour week (half-day Fridays) for years before getting rid of Friday as a workday altogether. That brought us to a four-day (Monday-Thursday), 32-hour work week. We haven’t looked back.
I’ve experienced the 32-hour work week as an individual contributor and seen how it works to the company’s benefit as well. In this article, you’ll read about everything I’ve learned working this schedule plus everything I’ve researched about the trend catching on around the world. First, we’ll define the term (it could mean different things to different people), then jump in from every angle.
Use the links below to jump to a section that interests you the most.
- Schedule examples
- Where to find 32-hour week jobs
- Companies that work 32 hours
- Countries that work 32 hours
- Common questions
Benefits of the 32-Hour Work Week
I use “four-day work week” and “32-hour work week” synonymously. By my calculation, I’ve experienced 22 benefits working this schedule (12 for employees, 10 for companies). Take a look at that article for an in-depth look at the benefits. I’ve included the most important ones here.
For Individuals & Freelancers
- Work-life balance
- Increase in happiness
- Fewer meetings
- More time for personal use and development
- Lower cost for childcare
I wrote in more-depth about the benefits of a four-day work week for the individual here.
For Companies & Managers
- A way to attract talent
- Better employee retention
- Happier employees (less burnout)
- Cultural switch from measuring hours at work to output
- Press coverage
Read more about benefits for the company here.
If you’re a founder or manager at a company that is considering a switch to this work schedule, I recommend reading this article about how to implement it, step-by-step.
32-Hour Work Week Schedule Examples
4-Day Work Week
The most common 32-hour schedule is four work days (like Monday – Thursday) with eight hours per day. Essentially, Friday is removed altogether from a typical work week. I personally work this schedule now.
Summer Fridays (or the seasonal four-day work week) is the same schedule as above, but only used during the summer.
6.5 hours per day
Another way to get to 32 hours per week would be to remove 1.5 hours of work per day. By working 6.5 hours per day, you’d get to 32 hours of work over the normal five weekdays. I haven’t heard of company schedules of 6.5 hours per day, but I have heard about six-hour workdays.
If you’re looking for other ideas, these alternative work schedules are similar (although not the same amount of hours):
- 4-10: Four, 10-hour work days per week
- 9/80: 80 hours over two weeks, with every other Friday off
- 9/72: Eight-hour workdays with every other Friday off
- Half-day Friday: Eight-hour workdays on Monday – Thursday, then four hours on Friday.
- 3-day work week
Read about 29 alternative or compressed schedules.
Where To Find 32-Hour Work Week Jobs
The first place I’d look is Flexjobs, the world’s biggest job board for remote and flexible work. You’ll find dedicated filters to “flexible” and “alternative” schedules.
Search for 32-hour work week jobs on Flexjobs.
- Indeed: This is the biggest job board in the world. Although they aren’t focused on alternative jobs, they’ll have most or all of the 32-hour jobs available.
- 4dayweek.io: This job board focuses on remote, 32-hour jobs in software.
- Every 4-day company: I have this running list of all four-day companies and a link to find jobs at those companies.
Companies Doing A 32-Hour Work Week
Every time a new company announces its new four-day work week policy, I update this list. It’s the most complete list of four-day, 32-hour companies on the internet. Here are a few of the biggest companies:
Basecamp, a company based in the United States, does a seasonal 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2008.
“As I write this it’s the first week of May, and there’s an energetic buzz in the air — because it means that Summer Hours are about to start here at Basecamp. During summer, we work 4-day work weeks, aka ‘summer hours’. Summer hours are in effect from May 1 through August 31 each year.”
Microsoft Japan, a company based in Japan, did a trial of a 32-hour work week in 2019.
“Workers at Microsoft Japan enjoyed an enviable perk this summer: working four days a week, enjoying a three-day weekend — and getting their normal, five-day paycheck. The result, the company says, was a productivity boost of 40%,” said Bill Chappell in an NPR article.
Shopify, a company based in Canada, does a seasonal 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2020.
In a tweet by Carl Rivera, VP of Product, said, “Today Shopify announced Fridays off for R&R through August. A response to lower rates of vacation being scheduled, despite the increased mental pressure from the changing times that we’re in. And, we also have no meeting Wednesdays (since before it was cool).”
Piktochart, a company based in the United States, does a permanent 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2020.
“We believe that by prioritizing our people, we will be able to build better products and a successful, sustainable business for the long run. The 4 day work week is something that we see can help us to achieve our goals.”
thredUP, a company based in the United States, does a permanent 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2021.
“Did we mention that we are currently utilizing a 4 day work week to really emphasize the importance and value of work-life balance? When our team shows up for work, they are energized and motivated to succeed – all while being the most crucial piece to keeping the thredUP operations humming.”
Bolt, a company based in the United States, does a permanent 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2021.
“I believe a 4 day work week isn’t an “if” for most companies, it’s a “when.” In true Bolt spirit, we didn’t wait around to follow others – we put our money where our mouth is. I’m honored to lead the company this way and can’t wait to share the results along the way.”
Wonderlic, a company based in the United States, does a permanent 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2021.
“After reviewing the results of a successful 12-week summer trial, Wonderlic is fully instating a 32-hour, four-day work week, effective immediately.”
Kickstarter, a company based in the United States, does a trial of a 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2022.
“Kickstarter plans next year to test a four-day work week with some or all of its employees, though details of that remain to be figured out, including whether all workers will have the same schedule,” wrote Ina Fried for Axios.
Panasonic, a company based in Japan, does a permanent, optional 32-hour work week. They started doing this in 2022.
“Executives at some Japanese firms are reacting to the pandemic by adopting more flexible work arrangements. Those at Panasonic say they will allow their employees the option of scaling down to a 4-day week.”
See the full list of 4-day companies (and job openings) here.
Countries Doing A 32-Hour Work Week
This list is much smaller than the companies list, but potentially more impactful. Here are a few countries that have trialed or permanently adopted a 32-hour work week:
Iceland did a “Trial 36 Hours” in 2015-2019
“The trials were conducted between 2015 and 2019, initiated by the Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic national government. The trials ultimately involved 2,500 workers, more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population, who moved from working 40 hours a week to a 35- or 36-hour week, without a reduction in pay.”
Japan did a Recommendation in June 24, 2021
“The country’s annual economic policy guidelines, released this month, unveiled plans to push employers to adopt four-day workweeks, marking official acceptance of a once-fringe approach…”
Spain did a “Trial 32 Hours” in Proposed: September 1, 2021
“When the progressive party Más País launched in 2019, it included the 4-day work week as part of its platform, and went on to propose the trial that won the Spanish government’s approval in January. Although the specifics remain undecided, the pilot, which is expected to launch in September and last three years, will use 50 million euros in European Union funding to compensate an estimated 200 companies for reducing their employees’ work week to 32 hours—without cutting their salaries.”
Scotland did a “Trial 32 Hours” in September 3, 2021
“Scotland plans to launch a trial four-day workweek. The decision was the culmination of a campaign promise made by the ruling Scottish National Party. Workers will have their hours reduced by 20%, but won’t suffer any loss in compensation. The program will be funded by the SNP with a £10 million fund ($13.8 million U.S.).”
Lithuania implemented the option for public-sector employees with children under the age of three to work 32 hours per week without a reduction in pay. The law took effect starting January 1, 2023.
“Lithuania is the latest country to try out a four-day workweek, thanks to a policy passed by lawmakers yesterday (April 21).
Under the new policy, which will take effect next year, public-sector employees with children under the age of three will be allowed to work 32 hours a week without any reduction in their pay. A standard workweek in Lithuania is 40 hours.”
See the full list of countries here.
Learn more about California’s 4-Day Work Week Bill – Where does it stand?
What is it like working 32 hours per week?
Working 32 hours per week is life-changing if you are accustomed to 40+ hours. A 32-hour work week frees up an extra day that isn’t quite a weekday and isn’t quite a weekend day. You have a personal development day each week to work out, build a side business, exercise, run errands, or more.
Is working 32 hours per week considered full time?
This depends on the state and/or country in which your business operates. The U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t specify an amount of hours to qualify as full-time. A general rule of thumb to follow is that 30 hours or more would qualify as full time.
32 vs 40-hour work week: Which is better?
This one is pretty obvious, right? If not, think of it this way: if you have a set schedule of 32 hours but need to work 40 hours in a given week, you can always do that. But if you have an expectation for 40 hours, it’s less likely you can flex down to 32.
Are there any 32-hour work week bills proposed?
- United States: There is currently a bill, H. R. 4728, proposes to “reduce the federal definition of the standard workweek from 40 to 32 hours per week.”
- California (United States): AB 2932 was introduced as a bill in 2022 to reduce the standard work week to 32 hours for employers with 500+ employees. The bill is paused.
- Japan: “The country’s annual economic policy guidelines, released this month, unveiled plans to push employers to adopt four-day workweeks, marking official acceptance of a once-fringe approach…”
Does a 32-hour work week increase productivity?
In my experience, no. We went from 36 hours to 32 hours per week without a decrease in productivity, though. So we’re more efficient per hour, but not more efficient in total. Our productivity and profitability remained the same.
How many hours per day is a 32-hour work week?
8 hours per day X 4 work days per week
The most common 32-hour work week has four work days, each consisting of eight hours of work. Typically, Friday is removed as a work day and everything else stays the same as a standard 40-hour work week.
Does California have a 4-day work week? Is California proposing it?
AB 2932 was introduced as a bill in 2022 to amend Section 510 of the state’s labor code, reducing the standard 40-hour work week to 32 hours for businesses with more than 500 employees. For now, the California 32-hour work week is paused, though the legislature plans to revisit the bill in 2023.
Learn more about California’s 4-day work week bill.
Try it out
We’ve worked the 40-hour week since Henry Ford switched Ford Motors to that schedule almost 100 years ago. That doesn’t mean it fits for today. Do you think you and your team can get the same amount of work done in 32 hours as you do 40? Then give the alternative schedule a try.
Find a better work week on Flexjobs.
View other unique work week schedules
This is part of our series highlighting unique work schedules. Have a look:
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