Traditional work patterns are transforming, driven by shifts in work culture trends. The emergence of alternative schedules, like the 4-day work week, aims to cultivate improved work-life equilibrium, enhance well-being, and boost productivity. In this evolving landscape, the role of ergonomic chairs is pivotal as they foster employee comfort, health, and job satisfaction.

Understanding the 4-Day Work Week

The 4-day work week represents a flexible work arrangement where employees operate for four days rather than the customary five, often by extending the daily working hours. For instance, instead of distributing eight-hour shifts across five days, employees may engage in 10-hour shifts over four days. This extra day of respite can be situated anywhere within the week, subject to mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. At its core, the 4-day work week embodies the pursuit of a more balanced work-life equation.

A Historical Glimpse

The conventional five-day work week stems from historical norms, originating from early 20th-century labour movements that advocated for a reduction from a six-day work week. Over time, the average weekly working hours in developed nations decreased from 60 to around 40, with futurists like economist John Maynard Keynes projecting further reductions due to technological advancements. In 1956, then US Vice President Richard Nixon even envisioned a forthcoming 4-day work week.

Reasons to Embrace the 4-Day Work Week

While the concept of a 4-day work week may seem radical, its foundation rests on thoughtful considerations of modern workforce requirements, evolving work dynamics, and a healthier work-life equilibrium.

Multiple compelling rationales underpin the adoption of this alternative schedule:

  • Enhanced Productivity: Dispelling the misconception that longer hours equate to higher productivity, the 4-day work week compels employees to prioritise tasks, discard time-wasting pursuits, and concentrate on substantial, high-impact work.
  • Mitigated Burnout: Extended periods of work without adequate recuperation can lead to burnout at work, culminating in reduced productivity and compromised well-being. The 4-day work week presents an additional day for rejuvenation, relaxation, and personal interests, potentially lowering burnout and elevating job satisfaction.
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: Embracing a 4-day work week empowers employees with greater autonomy over their schedules, improving work-life balance and enabling them to manage family responsibilities, personal obligations, and self-care more effectively.
  • Health and Well-being: Long commutes and extended work hours can exact a toll on physical and mental health. A condensed work week alleviates commuting strains and allows more time for exercise, relaxation, and quality moments with loved ones.
  • Talent Attraction and Retention: In a competitive job market, offering a 4-day work week can be a potent strategy for attracting and retaining skilled professionals, a critical asset in today’s environment of workforce scarcity.
  • Environmental Impact: Reduced work hours translate to fewer commutes, leading to diminished carbon emissions and a favourable ecological effect, in line with the growing emphasis on sustainability.
  • Increased Focus and Creativity: A compressed work week compels employees to optimise their energy and time, potentially yielding heightened focus and amplified creativity. Additional personal time allows for rejuvenation, positioning workers to confront challenges more adeptly.
  • Adaptation to Technology: The future of work means that the advances in technology enable remote work and increased efficiency, making it possible to accomplish the same amount of work in fewer hours.

Ryan Breslow, the CEO at Bolt explains why they are switching to a 4-day week: “Work is changing and the biggest obstacle we have to face is burnout. Furthermore, we’re going to become vastly more efficient from Monday to Thursday. We’ll trim those excess meetings; we won’t send unnecessary communications. Because we’ll have less time, we’ll get more concrete work done.”

Two Models of the 4-Day Work Week

  1. The Fixed Work Schedule: Under this model, the work week’s duration is reduced by one day, often termed the 100-80-100 model. Workers are paid 100% for 80% of the hours in exchange for a pledge to sustain at least 100% productivity. This approach, tested since 2015 in various countries and business settings, offers significant promise.
  2. The Compressed Work Schedule: This model redistributes the standard weekly hours across four days instead of five. For example, if the weekly normal hours are 40 hours/week, then instead of working 8 hours per day for 5 days, a compressed work schedule would entail working 10 hours per day for 4 days. This is also known as a 4/10 work week.

The Pros and Cons of the 4-Day Work Week

While the 4-day work week holds advantages, it necessitates strategic planning, effective communication, and adaptation by both employers and employees. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day work week:

  1. Reduced Work Hours vs. Increased Workload:

Pro: Reduced work hours lead to improved work-life balance. Employees are given an extra day off, allowing for more time to relax, pursue hobbies, and spend time with loved ones.

Con: However, some organisations may inadvertently increase the workload to fit into the condensed schedule. This can lead to increased stress as employees struggle to complete the same amount of work in fewer days, potentially negating the benefits of reduced hours.  In the South African context, especially for those further down the socioeconomic scale, an extra day off in the week may lead to more double jobbing as they seek to raise their incomes – this could be good news in terms of living wages, but bad news in terms of wellbeing, stress and workload.

Click here to learn how to deal with stress at work.

  1. Longer Work Days vs. Shorter Work Week:

Pro: A shorter work week means fewer interruptions and distractions from meetings, emails and phone calls. Employees can enjoy longer stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on their tasks and achieve their goals.

Con: Longer work days can also be exhausting and demanding for some workers who may not be able to cope with the increased intensity and pressure.

  1. Improved Work-Life Balance vs. Scheduling Difficulties:

Pro: A 4-day work week can improve work-life balance by giving employees more time to attend to their personal needs and interests. Employees can also benefit from having a longer weekend which can boost their morale and motivation.

Con: A 4-day work week can also create scheduling difficulties for some workers who may have to coordinate with clients or colleagues who follow a different work schedule. This can cause communication problems or delays.

The Role of Ergonomic Chairs in a 4-Day Work Week

In a world marked by sedentary routines, the hazards of prolonged sitting are evident, linked to a range of health concerns. The solution?

An ergonomic chair – a must-have for anyone spending considerable hours sitting at a desk.

Beyond comfort, ergonomic chairs actively support body alignment, reducing strain on the spine, muscles, and joints. What happens when you sit?  These chairs, equipped with adjustable features like lumbar support, seat depth, and recline angles, foster a neutral posture essential for lengthy sitting sessions. Additionally, they encourage dynamic movements, enhancing circulation and counteracting sedentary effects.

In an era dominated by remote work and screen engagement, investing in an ergonomic chair transcends immediate comfort; it becomes a proactive measure safeguarding long-term health, well-being, and productivity.

Karo’s Fenix Ergonomic Office Chair comes with a 5-star ergonomic rating.

Why Ergonomic Chairs are Vital in a 4-Day Work Week

The compressed 4-day work week intensifies the demand for extended sitting sessions – a potential hazard to long-term health and comfort. Thus, ergonomic office chairs become imperative, ensuring the well-being of individuals navigating this schedule. These chairs offer:

  • Enhanced Comfort: In workdays extending 10 hours or more, ergonomic chairs mitigate discomfort by furnishing appropriate support and cushioning for various body parts. They counteract pain and discomfort stemming from extended sitting.
  • Increased Productivity: Comfort underpins productivity. Ergonomic chairs facilitate focused tasks, minimising distractions and disruptions caused by discomfort. They sustain energy levels, combatting fatigue.
  • Improved Health: Long hours of sitting can result in various health ailments. Ergonomic chairs encourage natural spinal alignment, blood circulation, and alleviate pressure points, promoting overall health and wellness.

Karo has a large selection of Ergonomic Office Chairs to suit your specific needs.


While the 4-day work week isn’t universally applicable, it merits careful evaluation. Amid this consideration, one constant emerges: the indispensability of ergonomic chairs. An ergonomic chair is a chair that has been designed to best support the body in terms of proper posture, health, and comfort. It has certain features that allow it to adjust to the individual needs and preferences of each worker, such as the appropriate height, seat depth, lumbar support, backrest, armrest, headrest, wheels, and material. These chairs transcend mere furniture, becoming instrumental in optimising work time while prioritising health and comfort. Should you wish to delve deeper into the realm of ergonomic chairs or other furnishings, we invite you to connect with us. Our diverse range of high-quality products, complemented by free consultations and delivery services, stands ready to cater to your distinct needs and preferences.

To speak to an Office Ergonomics Risk Facilitator contact us on 011 392 6803 or email [email protected]

Article first seen on Karo’s Knowledge Centreclick here for the full article.