Why companies do not want 4 days workweek? Origins, review, fight for rights.

by: Artur Dziedziczak

February 11, 2024

Corporations that do not want 4 days workweek

I’ll start this post with companies that in some way stated that they do not want 4 days workweek

Sadly it’s not easy to find such. Most of the corporations I found were in favor of 4-day workweek. Well at least on paper. [1]

The trial was a resounding success. Of the 61 companies that participated, 56 are continuing with the four-day week (92%), with 18 confirming the policy is a permanent change

What I’m interested in is a less positive outcome

Of the 5 who are not continuing, 2 have opted to extend their trials of shorter working hours (one started late and is still in the pilot phase and the other is experimenting with a four-and-a-half day week). 3 others have paused the four-day week in their organization for the time being

So for this particular study, 5 companies stoped the pilot program and went back to their 5 days week. I cannot find which companies are those as it’s not mentioned in the document. Still, it’s a fact that such corporations exist

What I’m interested in is what are the basis of their claims. Why even though research finds that we can work 4 days a week and productivity does not drop, there are still companies that do not want to opt in this change?

I’ll start this section with one Twitter post that made me write this post. Here it is. The shit-storm of the week on Polish social media. MBank Research Twitter post. [2]

MBank Research decided it’s good to ask workers about their opinions about 4 day working week. To simplify process they formulated bunch of questions and answers

The question asked of the workers was: What are you the most afraid of in 4 workweek? and the answers followed:

  • you won’t manage to finish your work on time
  • because of more time off you won’t have enough money to fill it with some activities (going out for restaurant)
  • you get bored because of too much free time
  • you won’t be able to connect with family that has 5 days working week

The bomb was dropped. People started to write comments in response. No one was injured but some people got offended. People like me.

What are MBank arguments? I tried to find research from it but I could not find one. What I found though is research made on workers of different industries that what I see share the worries of corporations. [3]

This research is a survey made for workers of different industries like manufacturing, education, healthcare, finance, IT & Telecoms

The picture seems pretty clear here. Manufacture workers, teachers, and healthcare workers. They all are pessimistic about 4 day workweek

Those working in education reported the highest levels of pessimism, with 44% of workers believing it is unrealistic to move to a 4-day workweek with no reduction in pay. Three other sectors stood out above the national average of 32%, including those in manufacturing (41%), human resources (38%), and travel (37%)

Where is this pessimism coming from? They are worried that it’s not possible to fulfill the demand for their work in reduced time. This makes sense but we already reduced the workweek to 5 days right? Like the week has 7 days and most people work only 5 days. At least in Europe. Why not 4 then?

In further chapters, I’ll present my analysis of 4 day workweek origins and I’ll present my opinion on it. I’ll also mention how we can fight for 4 days a week or any other right

Have fun reading!

Origin of 7 days week

I’ll start my research by asking a simple question

Why the f&#* do we have 7 days in a week?

Well, it sounds silly, right? It’s something your kid can ask and you could probably answer to it right away. Right?

For me, it was not obvious. I was never good when it comes to history. There are people though who researched this topic and found the answer [22] [23]

Once agriculture had reached a sufficient level of surplus production, it became a patent advantage for barter, or later for sale, to have a fixed place at regular, relatively short, time intervals, for market transactions. Thus the week was born, having four, five, six, seven, and even ten days [23] ]

The number of 7 day week was introduced by Babylonians

The concept of seven started thus from astronomical observations, but was also much used by Babylonian astrologers

But it’s good to keep in mind that other cultures used different numbers to represent how long this period lasted

like the Egyptians, whose week was 10 days long; or the Romans, whose week lasted eight [22]

You might now ask Dear author of this post, why we should care about this?

And my answer is This is a basis from which other rights were made. If not Babylonians picking more or less random numbers that represent period of time we call a week we would not have 5 days working week.

And when I mentioned that it was random that Babylonians picked 7 and not for example 10. Here I present you a quote from a publication I found

The seven-day week spread throughout the Near East. It was adopted by the Jews, who had been captives of the Babylonians at the height of that civilization’s power. Other cultures in the surrounding areas got on board with the seven-day week, including the Persian Empire and the Greeks. [22]

Origins of 5 days working week

Let’s stop with Babylon and focus closely into burning it

Marley Live 1019x1024
Figure 1. Bob Marley Live. Photo taken from [4]

To Rastafarians, Babylon is the modern reality, or system of corruption where we are all struggling. Babylon could signify the political state, the police, the church, or any corrupt or oppressive force. [5]

5 days a week. When this concept was born?

Apparently, there is no single origin. [6] We can see that it started to be introduced around the year 1900

The five-day workweek is a cultural norm; the result of early 1900s union advocacy to reduce the six-day workweek, which led to the invention of the weekend. [7]

What is certain though is that it was developing and increasing. From one day per defined period up to two days. The system changes needed laws and in various countries different dates of such laws are applied

In USA it was standarized in 1938 [8] [9]

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no employer shall employ any of his employees who in any workweek is engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or is employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed

And in the UK it happened in 1998 [10] [11] for workers below 18 years old. Wait what? What about adults? Well from what I read UK follows the law of UE [12] and now it’s no more than 48 hours

To conclude this chapter usually you work hours a week and not days a week. In Europe, you cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week and usually, you work 40 hours

Also These laws were influenced by labor unions and strikes [10]. Probably without them, employees would be in destination F

Origins of 4 days working week

Now, we know that 5 days a week workday or 40 hours a week was something that was granted by law and was opposed by corporations. We also know that weekdays are kind of artificial and just by luck we have 7 days a week and not 10

What about working 4 days a week? Who came up with this?

Again just as with 5 days workweek there is no simple origin but we can see different origins combining into something bigger. [7]

4 Day Week Global seems to be currently the biggest organization that proposes this change. [13] It was created in 2019 and it has since that time they created multiple pilot programs in various countries. Their pilot programs were mentioned in the first chapter of this blog post

The biggest goal of this organization is to:

4 Day Week Global seeks to reshape the way we think about work, by moving the conversation away from hours, and onto productivity and output. [13]

I’m not gonna go through all the arguments behind the benefits of 4 days workweek. To mention a few of them it’s proposed that 4-day workweek will positively impact workers' physical and mental health without compromising to quality and value of their work

Origins of law

I think we can all agree that after removing all worries about reducing the impact, value, and revenue of corporations, 4 days a week would be pretty lit. I would love to work 4 days a week and not focus on the value of the company I work for

Here are some author notes:

Figure 2. Just stop Oil protest in London

Companies say they are like families to their employees and employees say that they give their life for their companies. Please stop this bullshit. No one dreams of labor and we only work for money or sometimes for values that are important for us. Companies grant money to survive and workers grant work force to make money for companies. Don’t put their family values. It’s also pretty fucked up that with all greenwashing, and corporate talk we "employees" still tolerate this. Capitalistic greed of corporations without morals is ruling the current world and all what we got for it is the new iPhone, climate change, lung cancer from cigarettes and air pollution. Don’t get me wrong. I give 100% of myself when I work as it’s 8 hours of my pathetic life and I cannot skip this in any way due to the current system we have. This does not mean that I should tolerate disloyal corporate bullshit which I hear from corporations. End of author note

What is law?

Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior [14]

Since I’m not interested right now in philosophy of law I’ll just focus on ways to change it

The system change depending on the country is tedious and long. Here is an example [15] from UK. It consists of 13 steps from person idea to actual law act

Before that, you probably need to put some pressure on lawmakers. You could do that by: [16]

  • Demonstrations
  • Petitions
  • Publicity stunts
  • Protests
  • Network with other citizens
  • Support organizations fighting for your rights

or you can also pick some of the more drastic ways that worked through history

  • creating labor unions and demanding new set of rights from corporations
  • burning tires from the tractor on the highway (seems to work in The Netherlands)
  • form a lobby, lobby is good to build pressure (works for Shell and Tabaco industry)
  • you can try to eat the prime minister (also worked well in The Netherlands) [17]
  • you can read about the French Revolution but be careful as this escalates quickly

How to fight for rights? Example of women’s voting rights

As for any controversial topic, 4 days weekday will be hard to introduce. This case study is I assume good example of how even the most cultural and civilizational norms can be changed

Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst
Figure 3. Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst campaigning for women’s suffrage. Image taken from Wikipedia. [18]

Every time I think about fighting for some rights I see the prohibition of slavery and women’s rights to vote. Both used to be controversial in Europe and both laws were granted by the hard work of people who sometimes dedicated their whole lives to fight injustice

During the 19th century, the right to vote was gradually extended in many countries, and women started to campaign for their right to vote. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote on a national level. Australia gave women the right to vote in 1902 [18]

The history of women’s rights to vote is complicated and for US got visualized in the form of a timeline on this website [19]

Key points which you can take:

  • influence the public by discussion based on facts
  • focus on activism, no matter if it’s global or local. Activism is a key to enlightening public opinion.
  • form a community that will support your values, give it a name like "feminism" and unite many people under one "flag"
  • start with influencing politics with people who support rights, even a small number of voices in parliament can make a big change
  • be prepared for years of fighting for your rights, such changes do not happen overnight

Corporations which introduced 4 days a week

There are already corporations that support 4-day workweek. In the USA the list starts with many IT companies but not only. [20]

What we also seen in first chapter of this post the benefits for employees are huge. In research I shared [1] it was shown that

Employees also found it easier to balance their work with both family and social commitments – for 54%, it was easier to balance work with household jobs – and employees were also more satisfied with their household finances, relationships and how their time was being managed

Keep in mind that there are different ways to introduce this 4 day workweek. For more information please check sources [1]


I hope I did not bore you with my writing and that you learned something new

To conclude, a fight for 4 days or 32/34 hours workweek is happening and I don’t think it can end without system changes. We need workers' influence and a new set of laws

I think it’s natural that we don’t want to work till we die and the sooner we get more free time from work the better for everyone. It’s sad that the current system is built in a way that grants me more or less financial freedom when I’m old and grumpy. But this system is something we can change. I don’t think we can escape capitalism. It’s too idealistic. Probably we will work and die for many more centuries. Or maybe thanks to corporations we will all die due to global warming

What it’s good to know is that people who already tasted freedom do not want to take it back

15% of employees said that no amount of money would induce them to accept a five-day schedule over the four-day week [1]

Also keep in mind that there are already countries where working 32/34 hours a week is acceptable by employers and society

While average hours worked per year in the Netherlands fell over much of this period, among workers defined as full-time (32+ hours) average weekly work hours changed very little, fluctuating between 42.1 and 43.2. [21]

AI is slowly taking our jobs and corporations gain more and more money. I think right after 32/34 hours workweek we could start fighting for minimal wages for everyone regardless if they work or not. If we are being replaced by AI maybe AI owners should pay taxes just as we humans pay for our living

Ok, that’s it for now. I’m going to drink some Leffe beer and play Borderlands. Have a great day everyone!


[1] “THE RESULTS ARE IN: THE UK’S FOUR-DAY WEEK PILOT.” [Online]. Available: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/60b956cbe7bf6f2efd86b04e/t/63f3df56276b3e6d7870207e/1676926845047/UK-4-Day-Week-Pilot-Results-Report-2023.pdf

[2] “MBank Research.” [Online]. Available: https://twitter.com/mbank_research/status/1754516524470018216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1754516524470018216%7Ctwgr%5E2e1a9ca40bb9425de144f0fc5357032b90b8b58a%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.donald.pl%2Fartykuly%2FExayRrn6%2Fekonomisci-mbanku-rozwazaja-szkody-jakie-moglby-przyniesc-ludziom-4-dniowy-tydzien-pracy

[3] “ClickUp Research Finds 4-day Work Week Threatens to Leave Millions of UK Workers Behind.” [Online]. Available: https://clickup.com/blog/clickup-4-day-work-week/

[4] “Bob Marley and the Wailers’ ‘Live!’ Album: Reggae Rocks Babylon.” [Online]. Available: https://bestclassicbands.com/bob-marley-wailers-live-album-review-6-9-200/

[5] “Babylon: Our Continuing Struggle.” [Online]. Available: https://www.uvm.edu/ debate/dreadlibrary/Seeger1.htm

[6] “Workweek and weekend.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workweek_and_weekend

[7] “Four-day workweek.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-day_workweek

[8] “29 U.S. Code § 207 - Maximum hours.” [Online]. Available: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/207

[9] “Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Labor_Standards_Act_of_1938

[10] “Eight-hour day.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day

[11] “Working Time Regulations 1998.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_Time_Regulations_1998

[12] “Working Time Directive 2003.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_Time_Directive_2003

[13] “4 Day Week Global.” [Online]. Available: https://www.4dayweek.com/

[14] “Law.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law

[15] “How laws are made in the UK and how to influence the law-making process.” [Online]. Available: https://ilpa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/resources/4731/08.10.1188.pdf

[16] “Ways in which citizens can influence government decision-making.” [Online]. Available: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zfj8xyc/revision/3

[17] “Johan de Witt: That time the Dutch people ate their prime minister.” [Online]. Available: https://dutchreview.com/culture/dutch-history-crowds-ate-prime-minister/

[18] “Women’s rights.” [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_rights

[19] “Crusade for the Vote.” [Online]. Available: https://www.crusadeforthevote.org/

[20] “Every U.S. Company With a 4-Day Workweek—Full List.” [Online]. Available: https://www.newsweek.com/every-us-company-4-day-workweek-full-list-1697943

[21] D. Hamermesh and J. Biddle, “Days of Work Over a Half Century: The Rise of the Four-day Week,” National Bureau of Economic Research, w30106, Jun. 2022. doi: 10.3386/w30106

[22] K. Heineman, “Why are there seven days in a week?” [Online]. Available: https://source.colostate.edu/why-are-there-seven-days-in-a-week/

[23] A. R. Michaelis, “The Enigmatic Seven,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1–3, Mar. 1982, doi: 10.1179/030801882789801278