The Climate Benefits of a 4-Day Work Week (32hrs)
Discover the climate benefits of adopting a 4-day workweek. Learn how reduced commuting and energy consumption can help us combat climate change.
3 min read
24 Jun, 2023
The concept of a 4-day work week (32 hours) is gaining momentum as a powerful solution. Beyond enhancing employee well-being and productivity, it can significantly contribute to our planet's health.
Transitioning to a shorter work week can yield substantial benefits, such as reducing energy consumption, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating the environmental impacts of commuting and office operations.
Join us as we explore the climate advantages of a shorter work week and its potential to create a healthier, eco-conscious work culture.
Understanding Climate Change
Climate change, an undeniable reality of the 21st century, is predominantly caused by human activities that intensify the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The primary culprit? Carbon dioxide is emitted mainly through the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
The Carbon Footprint of a 5-Day Workweek
Commuting's Impact on the Environment
Commuting, an integral part of the traditional 5-day work week, is not as innocent as it might seem.
Did you know that transportation accounts for approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions? This encompasses everything from cars, trucks, and buses to marine vehicles, aircraft, and trains.
Moreover, in 2021, the transportation sector emerged as the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, accounting for 28% of the country's total emissions.
Millions of employees commute to their workplaces daily, contributing significantly to these emissions.
Energy Consumption in Office Buildings
Office buildings are energy-intensive spaces. Depending on the season, they need to be heated or cooled; lights must be kept on, and computers, printers, coffee machines, and other equipment must be powered.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that commercial and residential buildings account for about 13% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. And a significant part of this comes from the traditional 5-day office-based work schedule.
Would you like a 4 day work week?
The Climate Benefits of the 4-Day Workweek
Decreased Carbon Emissions Through Reduced Commuting
Imagine the potential if every employee could reduce their commute by 20%. That's precisely what a 4-day workweek offers. By minimizing commuting, we can decrease the number of vehicles on the road, reduce the reliance on buses, and ultimately, decrease the consumption of fossil fuels.
This reduction in commuting directly translates to lower carbon emissions and a decrease in other pollutants associated with transportation. It's a simple yet impactful change we can make to combat climate change.
According to a 2021 report by Stop The Clock, adopting a 4-day workweek could lead to a remarkable reduction of up to 21.3% in the UK's carbon footprint. The report estimates that implementing a four-day workweek has the potential to cut UK carbon emissions by an impressive 127 million tonnes annually.
Reduced Energy Consumption in Workspaces
Implementing a 4-day work week offers advantages in terms of productivity and yields significant energy savings. With one less day of office operations, the cumulative reduction in energy consumption can be substantial.
By reducing workdays, the need for heating, cooling, and lighting diminishes, resulting in decreased energy demand. Also, fewer electronic devices would require powering.
These combined factors contribute to a notable reduction in energy consumption, leading to lower carbon emissions.
Examples of 4-Day Work Week Successful Implementations
Case Study 1
A remarkable example is New Zealand, where Perpetual Guardian, an estate management company, embraced the 4-day workweek concept in 2018. The outcomes surpassed all expectations.
Their 240 employees experienced a remarkable 24% improvement in work-life balance while maintaining high productivity levels.
The employees maintained their output by streamlining work processes and eliminating unproductive activities. Moreover, the environmental impact was a welcomed bonus.
The company substantially reduced its carbon footprint with a full day less commuting for the entire workforce. This case exemplifies the tangible benefits and potential of implementing a 4-day work week.
Case Study 2
Our next destination on the journey of 4-day workweek implementations takes us to Japan. In August 2019, Microsoft Japan embarked on a 'Work-Life Choice Challenge,' embracing a 4-day work week.
The results were astonishing: a remarkable 40% increase in productivity, 23% reduction in electricity costs, and an impressive 60% decrease in paper printing. Also, employees reported higher job satisfaction and reduced stress levels.
These positive results led to a decrease in energy consumption and commuting, significantly reducing carbon footprint.
Moreover, the success of this trial ignited broader discussions about work culture in Japan and paved the way for further advancements toward work-life reform.
The 4-day work week is more than just a perk for employees. It’s a viable solution that could play a significant role in mitigating the impact of climate change.
Although it may require a shift in traditional work paradigms, the evidence suggests that the benefits far outweigh the potential challenges.
Curious to know which companies have already implemented a 4-day week? Explore this extensive list of over 300+ companies embracing the 4-day work week.
1. How does a 4-day work week help the environment?
By reducing the number of commuting days and minimizing energy consumption in office spaces, a 4-day work week significantly decreases the carbon footprint. This means we are actively contributing to the fight against climate change.
2. What are the benefits of a 4-day work week beyond environmental impact?
In addition to environmental benefits, a 4-day work week can lead to improved mental and physical health for employees, a better work-life balance, and increased job satisfaction.