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.
- 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 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.
- 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:
"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."
"Executives at some Japanese firms are reacting to the pandemic by adopting more flexible work arrangements.
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:
"The trials were conducted between 2015 and 2019, initiated by the Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic national government.
"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..."
Proposed: September 1, 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.)."
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.
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 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.
View other unique work week schedules
This is part of our series highlighting unique work schedules. Have a look:
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that may provide Buildremote with a small commission at no cost to you.