Adopting a 4-Day Work Week

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The resources below are in the order that they occur to me, not of importance... only you and your team can decide what really counts as important for your audience!

Articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers

1. In general, think broadly when you look for articles on this topic. Even if an article doesn't mention 4-day workweeks (or "work weeks") directly, it may have other information that could be useful for your audience such as the effect of flexible schedules and other work-life balance initiatives on employee retention, productivity, etc.

Try searching in Business Source Complete using various combinations of such terms as...

  • Four day week
  • Workweek
  • Working hours
  • Compressed workweek
  • Work-life balance programs
  • Flextime
  • Hours of labor, flexible
  • Employee retention
  • Labor productivity
  • Burn out (psychology)

Start with this very rough exploratory search and add further terms to focus your results.

2. For a more Canadian perspective, try CBCA Complete and look for articles using the same terms (as keywords rather than subjects) that you used in Business Source Complete. Also try Canadian Newsstream for Canadian newspaper articles.

  • Start with this rough search in Canadian Newsstream, and be sure to track down any studies or researchers who are mentioned -- follow all clues!

3. Still focused on news, try Factiva for news from thousands of sources around the world. Factiva includes the Wall Street Journal and many other industry/business focused sources.

  • Try the following search in Factiva to get a sense of what the database contains: ("4-day" OR "four-day") AND (workweek or "work week") AND (research* OR study OR studies OR poll* OR survey)

Ebooks & books

1. Search the SFU Library Catalogue for the subject Four-day week.

  • That should lead you to this recent ebook, among others, but note that resource is focused on the "Pro" side of the argument. Be sure to actively seek out any "Con" sides so that your research is balanced.

Also try broader searches to learn about the current research on work-life balance topics such as...

TIP: Don't avoid older books and articles that may lead you to newer information. For example, consider this 2009 online report, Cost-benefit review of work-life balance practices from the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL)...

Other SFU Library guides/pages

1. The following topic pages were used in earlier BUS 360W classes. These topics have some overlap with yours, so the resources they list may prove useful.

2. Check out BUS 381 (HR Management) Course Guide for further HR-oriented publications you could search, starting with journals such as:

Other resources & search strategies

1. For the opinions of Canadians on work-life balance and general work environment issues, try major public opinion polling companies such as...

* sample: A healthy and happy workforce is a more productive workforce
* sample: Half of Canadians support concept of a shorter standard work week; one-in-five say it’s a bad idea
* sample: British Columbians Inching Closer to a True Work-Life Balance
* sample: Canadians Employed Full-Time Struggling with Work-Life Balance
  • Note: most of these organisations provide the detailed data tables for their surveys. Be sure to look for links to such deeper content, especially near the bottom of each summary of survey results.

2. Scan this special issue of Human Relations on work-life balance matters. It's getting a bit old now (2010), but note the "Times Cited in this Database" links for many of the articles -- follow such links to find newer articles that have cited the 2010 ones. Also search for some of the same article titles in Google Scholar to get an expanded list of citing articles/chapters.

3. The (US) Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a detailed online article about this topic: The Phenomenon of the Four-Day Workweek.

  • Note that SHRM has a tight limit on the number of free articles you can read at their site. Consider also checking out the SHRM's main publication, HR Magazine, via our Business Source Complete database. I don't see this specific article in the magazine, but there are others on related topics, including this one by the same author: The New World of Work.

4. From my initial searches, it appears that many of the most recent news articles in this topic tend to be in favour of moving to 4-day workweeks. However, decisions of this sort need to be based on facts, not majority opinion. Actively seek out both research on the topic and dissenting opinions! Even some of the positive articles might mention drawbacks or issues that need to be planned for if you choose to implement this sort of a policy.

  • For instance, here are a couple articles that popped up in my initial searches:

5. The International Labour Organization (ILO) published a working paper on a related topic recently: Working time and the future of work. Another ILO paper from way back in 2006 dealt with a related topic: "Compressed working weeks, Conditions of Work and Employment Series No. 12".

  • I hadn't thought of trying the term "compressed working weeks" in my searches before seeing this paper. The concept of a "compressed workweek" comes up sometimes when people are talking about changing work schedules for work-life balance reasons. That's not quite the same thing as a 4-day week, but some of the research on the topic may still be relevant. Check out my Google Scholar results.
  • The same author later (2012) co-authored a paper that aggregated and compared the conclusions of many studies on related topics: "Working time, health and safety: A research synthesis paper"
  • And that last paper has been cited by at least 31 newer publications since it was written, some of which might have relevant facts.

6. Think tanks and research institutes often cover this sort of topic. Try Harvard's Think Tank Search tool to find such reports, starting with this rough search.

7. Our Canadian Points of View Reference Centre database offers an Overview article on this topic, along with brief Point and Counterpoint articles and a Guide to Critical Analysis for the topic. These articles are not likely to be as focused on deep research as you will need for your case, but they might still be useful.

8. Here are a few more random articles/podcasts that I came across while I explored the topic. I'm not promising any of these will be good enough for your report, but they might prove useful...

9. OK, I swear I was going to stop, but then I came across the following article and realized one of the authors was a Beedie prof! Yay, Beedie!

10. The company listed in your case is in the insurance industry. I'm sure they can apply lessons learned from companies in other industries, but they might be particularly interested in what their colleagues and competitors are doing in this area. Look for insurance industry magazines, sites, and associations to see if they touch on the topic.

11. (21 March): An opinion article in today's Financial Times highlighted several studies that you may find useful: A four-day week might benefit employers as well.

  • Note: SFU researchers have full access to the Financial Times, but the process for logging in is a bit unusual. See the "Access" box in this blog post for details.

<No further suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add any tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>