32-Hour Work Week: The Complete Guide

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.

Use the links below to jump to a section that interests you the most.

 

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

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Increase in happiness
  3. Fewer meetings
  4. More time for personal use and development
  5. 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

  1. A way to attract talent
  2. Better employee retention
  3. Happier employees (less burnout)
  4. Cultural switch from measuring hours to output
  5. 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 working days with eight hours per day. I work that schedule Monday to Thursday.

Summer Fridays

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.

Similar schedules

If you’re looking for other ideas, these alternative work schedules are similar (although not the same amount of hours):

  • 4-10Four, 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

Flexjobs

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.

Other options

  • IndeedThis 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:

Company

Policy

Jobs

Story

Basecamp

Seasonal
32 Hours

United States:

"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

Trial
32 Hours

Japan: 

"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.

Shake Shack

Trial
32 Hours

United States:

"Many employers aren't just moving to 10-hour shifts, four days a week, as companies like Shake Shack are doing; they're going to a 32-hour week — without cutting pay. In exchange, employers are asking their workers to get their jobs done in a compressed amount of time," Yuki Noguchi said for NPR.

Shopify

Seasonal
32 Hours

Canada:

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)."

Kickstarter

Unknown

United States:

"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


Permanent
Optional

"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 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:

Company

Policy

Story

Quote

Iceland

Trial
36 Hours


"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

Recommendation

"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

Trial
32 Hours

Spain:

"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 

Trial 
32 Hours

"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.)."

See the full list of countries here.

 

Common questions

I couldn’t find a good section for some of these questions, so here’s a catch-all. I hope something in here is useful for you.

Is working 32 hours 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. I don’t provide legal advice on this blog, though.

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.”
  • 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.

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 Way to Work with FlexJobs

 

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About the author

Henry

Henry is the founder of Buildremote.

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