Market Overview

The Case for a 4-day Workweek? Nearly Half of Employees Worldwide Could Do Their Jobs in 5 Hours or Less Each Day


According to a global survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight
countries conducted by The
Workforce Institute
at Kronos
, nearly half (45 percent) of full-time workers say it
should take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked
uninterrupted, while three out of four employees (72 percent) would work
four days or less per week if pay remained constant. Yet, 71 percent of
employees also say work interferes with their personal life.

In honor of Labor Day, The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future
Workplace are launching a series examining how employees across
Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the
U.S. view their relationship with work. Part one, "The Case for a 4-Day
Workweek?" explores how employees spend their time on the clock and if
the standard 40-hour workweek is most effective.

News Facts

  • The 40-hour conundrum: Workers say they have enough time, yet many
    still work OT.
    • Even though 75 percent of full-time employees globally say they
      have enough time in the workday to finish their major tasks,
      nearly two in five (37 percent) work more than 40 hours each week
      and 71 percent claim work interferes with their personal lives.
    • Full-time employees in Australia (37 percent) and the U.K. (34
      percent) feel strongest that they do not have enough time in the
      day to get the job done, yet they do not work the most hours. The
      U.S. leads the way with overtime, as 49 percent clock more than 40
      hours each week, followed by India (44 percent), Mexico (40
      percent), and Germany (38 percent).
    • If given more time in the workday, one in four workers (28 percent
      of individual contributors1; 24 percent of people
      managers) would simply catch up on their work.
  • The case for a four-day workweek? Three-quarters of workers crave a
    longer weekend.
    • If pay remained constant, one-third of global workers say their
      ideal workweek would last four days (34 percent), while 20 percent
      said they would work three days a week. One in four global
      employees (28 percent) are content with the standard five-day
    • Full-time workers in Canada (59 percent), Australia (47 percent),
      and the U.S. (40 percent) feel strongest about having a four-day
      workweek, while U.K. employees desire a three-day workweek the
      most (26 percent).
    • India leads the way as the hardest-working country, with a
      whopping 69 percent of full-time employees saying they would still
      work five days a week even if they had the option to work fewer
      days for the same pay. Mexico was the second-highest at 43 percent
      of workers, followed by the U.S. at 27 percent. The U.K. (16
      percent), France (17 percent), and Australia (19 percent) are the
      least content with the standard five-day workweek.
    • One-third of employees (35 percent) would take a 20 percent pay
      cut to work one day less per week. However, those numbers vary
      greatly by country, as 50 percent of workers in Mexico, 43 percent
      in India, and 42 percent in France would take that arrangement
      compared with only 29 percent in Canada and 24 percent in the U.S.
  • Time (well) spent: Unrelated tasks, administrative work impact
    • Nearly nine in 10 employees (86 percent) say they lose time each
      day on work-specific tasks unrelated to their core job, with 41
      percent of full-time employees wasting more than an hour a day on
      these extraneous activities. Additionally, 40 percent of employees
      say they lose an hour-plus each day on administrative tasks that
      do not drive value for their organization.
    • When asked what they spend the majority of their workday doing,
      individual contributors (56 percent) and people managers (28
      percent) both listed servicing customers/patients/students as
      their top task.
    • The next highest-rated daily tasks for individual contributors
      include collaborating with co-workers (42 percent), administrative
      work (35 percent), manual labor (33 percent), and responding to
      emails (31 percent), while people managers list attending meetings
      (27 percent), administrative work (27 percent), collaborating with
      co-workers (26 percent), and responding to emails (26 percent) as
      the top ways they spend their workday.
  • What's the biggest time-waster at work? Depends on who you ask.
    • "Fixing a problem not caused by me" (22 percent) and
      administrative work (17 percent) were the top two answers given by
      full-time employees when asked what they waste the most time on at
      work each day. Meetings (12 percent), email (11 percent), and
      customer issues (11 percent) round out the top five time-wasters.
    • Baby Boomers2 apparently waste the most time fixing
      problems caused by someone else (26 percent). Gen Z is least
      likely to clean up after others (18 percent), yet they are most
      likely to waste time on handling workplace conflict (9 percent).
    • Millennials blame social media the most as a time-sucker (10
      percent), and they agree with Gen X as the most likely to say
      meetings are a waste of time (13 percent). Gen Z is twice as
      likely than Baby Boomers to say talking on the phone is a
      time-waster (10 percent).
    • Country-by-country, Mexico wastes the most time by far on
      administrative work (31 percent) followed by Canada (19 percent).
      The U.S. (29 percent), U.K. (28 percent), and Australia (27
      percent) reportedly waste the most time cleaning up after others.
      France is far more likely than other countries to dislike email
      (24 percent), with Germany the second-highest at 16 percent.
    • Part-time employees say they waste more time fixing problems
      caused by others (26 percent) and handling customer issues (16
      percent) compared with their full-time counterparts. Conversely,
      full-time workers are twice as likely to waste time in meetings
      (12 percent).
  • Too much wasted time or too much pressure: What causes excess work
    and burnout?
    • More than half of all employees worldwide (53 percent) feel
      pressure to work longer hours or pick up extra shifts to grow
      their career – yet oftentimes that pressure comes from within. Of
      those who feel pressure to work longer, 60 percent put pressure on
      themselves while the rest say that pressure comes solely from
      their managers.
    • Workers in France (66 percent) and India (62 percent) feel by far
      the most pressure to work longer hours, while employees in Canada
      (38 percent), the U.S. (44 percent), and Australia (47 percent)
      feel the least amount of pressure.
    • Gen Z feels by far the most pressure to grow their careers (67
      percent) – which is twice as more as their Baby Boomer colleagues
      (33 percent), who feel the least pressure.
    • Even though 71 percent of workers accomplish what they want to at
      work every day or almost every day, three in four employees (79
      percent) suffer from at least some burnout at work.
    • Unreasonable workload (26 percent) was the top reason cited for
      burnout, followed by "not enough time in the day to get job done"
      (25 percent); lack of skilled co-workers (24 percent); a negative
      workplace culture / toxic team (24 percent); and unfair
      compensation (21 percent).

Supporting Quotes

  • Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos
    biggest takeaway of this research isn't that we should move to a
    shorter workweek or that we need a time machine to get all our work
    done. It's clear that employees want to work and do well by their
    employers, and many roles require people to be present or on call
    during specific hours to get the job done – such as teachers, nurses,
    retail associates, plant workers, delivery drivers, and nearly all
    customer-facing roles. Organizations must help their people eliminate
    distractions, inefficiencies, and administrative work to enable them
    to work at full capacity. This will create more time to innovate,
    collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and serve customers
    while opening the door to creative scheduling options, including
    perhaps the coveted four-day workweek."
  • Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future

    "Employees are working harder than ever and at the
    cost of their personal lives. This study confirms that we can all be
    more efficient with our workday, that there's an opportunity to remove
    administrative tasks in exchange for more impactful ones, and that the
    traditional workweek isn't as relevant in today's business world.
    Employees need more flexibility with how, when, and where they work,
    and leaders should be supportive of an employee's professional and
    personal life. When employees get time to rest, they become more
    productive, creative, and are healthier, meaning they take fewer sick

Supporting Resources

  • Note to editors: Please refer to this research as the "The Case for a
    4-Day Workweek?" survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos
    Incorporated and Future Workplace.
  • See more
    from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, including the
    recent "Working
    Your Way"
    study, which found that organizations often undermine
    their own employee experience around work-life harmony when it comes
    to time off, productivity, and workload.
  • Read a complimentary copy of Garter's full
    , "Prepare Yourself for the Future of Workforce Management."
  • Subscribe
    to follow The
    Workforce Institute at Kronos
    for insight, research, blogs, and
    podcasts on how organizations can manage today's modern workforce to
    drive engagement and performance.
  • Connect with Kronos via Facebook,
    and YouTube.

About The Workforce Institute at Kronos

The Workforce Institute at Kronos provides research and education on
critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By
bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute at Kronos is
uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and
information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide
a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The
Workforce Institute's research is balancing the needs and desires of
diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For
additional information, visit

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital
management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce
applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers,
educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of
thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000®
— and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every
day. Visit
Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

Footnote 1: The term "non-managing employees" or "individual
contributors," unless otherwise noted, refers to full- or part-time
employees without any direct reports.

Footnote 2: Generations are defined as follows: Gen Z, born between
1994-2009; Millennials, born between 1982-1993; Gen X born between
1965-1981; and Baby Boomers, born between 1945-1964.

Survey Methodology

Research conducted by Future Workplace on behalf of Kronos
Incorporated based on a survey fielded by market research agency
VIGA between July 31– Aug. 9, 2018. For this survey, 2,772 employees
were asked general questions about their workplace, managers, time, and
work burnout. The study targeted full- and part-time employees living in
Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the
U.S. VIGA respondents are recruited through a number of different
mechanisms, via different sources, to join the panels and participate in
market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in
process and complete, on average, 300 profiling data points prior to
taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email
and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results
of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the
variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and
the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular
study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary,
plus or minus, by more than 1.9 percentage points from the result that
would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in
the universe represented by the sample. For further questions about
survey methodology, contact

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