Adjustments need to be made to the work week

Americans are overworked. According to an article from ABC News, the average American works more hours a week than anyone else in the industrialized world on top of receiving less paid vacation days. The five day/40 hour work week is not sustainable for everyone, and it can be a major contributing factor to workplace burnout. A four day work week, however, could help with this problem. 

The four day work week is gaining traction in quite a few countries around the world, with various companies implementing it to boost productivity and employee morale. A trial run of the four-day work week in the United Kingdom found that workers reported a decrease in their feelings of anxiety and fatigue, and around 70% of them felt less burnt out by the end of the trial. In this case, it seems that implementing a four day work week in the United States would not be a bad idea. 

One of the biggest arguments for the four day work week is that it increases productivity and decreases burnout. Having three days off gives workers even more time to recover from work and enjoy their time off, which means that when they go to work, they have more energy to be productive. It becomes less about trudging through the week and more about utilizing the time you have to get what you need done. 

            Another benefit of the four day work week is a decreased carbon footprint. Under a four-day work week, employees driving to work would have to make the commute less often, which saves on gas. Companies will also use less utilities to run the physical workplace—great for the environment and our wallets.

Finally, a four-day work week encourages a better work-life balance. With an extra day off, workers have more time to do whatever it is they enjoy doing outside of work. They also have more time to relax and truly enjoy their time off rather than spend all of it running errands and the like. Essentially, having a work-life balance would be a lot more attainable for a wider range of people. 

            Burnout and fatigue are not just issues for employees in the workplace, though. Many college students also find that they experience a similar tiredness and a lack of productivity thanks to having to take 8 a.m. classes. 

A study from Frontiers found that the majority of college students do not consider themselves “morning people” and say that they feel most productive around 10-11 a.m. Forcing them to take classes starting at 8 a.m. can hinder their performance. Rather than forcing them to take a class they need at 8 a.m., then, colleges should offer more classes starting at 10 a.m. 

Of course, there are students who feel productive earlier in the day, so banning early classes completely is not the fix to this issue. Colleges should consider scheduling the majority of classes starting at or after 10 a.m., however, so that less people are forced to take an 8 a.m. against their will. If they can take a required class later in the day when they feel more alert and productive, they will likely perform better in that class. 

Starting classes later also gives students the chance in the morning to catch up on homework or study for a test before class. This is especially good for students who would rather wake up early and do their work instead of staying up late into the night to complete it. Again, students who consider themselves to be a “morning person” have a chance to be productive in the morning, and people who feel as though they are not as productive in the morning would still be able to complete their work at night without having to compromise the amount of sleep they get. 

When it comes to any kind of work—in the professional or academic world—productivity is important. We can increase our productivity to get the same amount done and decrease burnout by not forcing ourselves to work too much or too early. With a four day work week in the professional world and later class start times in the academic one, we can get just as much done but with happier employees and students. 

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