Over 75% of US workers say they productive 4 days rather than 5

As younger generations, particularly Gen Z and Millenials, are aging to make up more of the workforce, workplace expectations from employees are shifting. One such shift is the increase in demands for a 4-day workweek.

Among US workers, over 75% say they could complete their current workload in a four-day workweek rather than five, according to a recent report from Fiverr. Millennials, who make up around 35% of today’s workforce, were the most passionate about the four-day workweek with 87% agreeing.

Fiverr, an online job marketplace for freelancers, conducted the survey of over 1,000 global workers in August, outlining changes and generational divides in workplace trends.

The survey also showed that while overall younger generations of workers are demanding more flexibility in their work schedules, they prefer in-person interactions over remote work.

But current workplace trends don’t necessarily reflect these values. The consulting firm EY’s annual Workplace Index found that although the four-day workweek has gained popularity abroad, it has seen little adoption by U.S. companies until recently.

“There is a gap between what employees are saying and what employers are doing,” Michal Miller Levi, senior director of market research and customer insights at Fiverr, told CNBC Make It.

Workplace values are shifting

The average US worker reports that they are productive for 31 hours a week, which roughly equals four days of 9-to-5 work. With Gen Z workers this number goes even lower to 29 hours a week. 

Miller Levi says it’s not because workers are being lazy but instead due to a value-shift in the workplace. Workers increasingly want to be assessed and evaluated not by the number of hours they work per week or the time that they spend in the office, but rather by the product and business outcomes they produce, she says.

In a recent interview with Make It, historian Ben Hunnicutt called the 40-hour work week a “historical accident,” and said that our current work week schedule is not an economic need anymore but has become a cultural value.

Although a 5-day workweek is still seemingly entrenched in our cultural understanding of work life, workers are increasingly growing out of it. According to a recent Monster survey, 1 in 3 workers would quit their current job for a 4-day workweek job, with 10% saying that they would even be okay facing a pay-cut for it.

A similar valuation is seen in the case of work flexibility. Over 2 in 5 American workers report feeling the most productive outside of regular 9 to 5 work hours. A recent Flexjobs survey also found that 21% of workers cited inflexible work hours as the main reason they wanted to quit their jobs.

Miller Levi says the generational trends in answers are striking. Flexibility in hours is valued most by Gen Z workers, with almost a third of them saying they feel more creative and inspired either early in the morning or late in the evening.

The overall desire for flexibility plays into how people decide between remote and in-person work as well. The large majority of respondents (76%) who said that their current work arrangement did not meet their ideal preferences said it was because they were required to be in the office more often that they preferred. 

Although Gen Z values flexibility, they are not as fond of working from home as other generations – Baby Boomers preferred remote work the most with 40%, followed by Gen X (32%) and Millennials (29%). 

“[Gen Z workers] like meeting people and interacting in person but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the office,” Miller Levi says. “Almost a third prefer working in public places like coffee shops where they can meet and interact with people while keeping their flexibility.”

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