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Companies find less is more as Maryland weighs 4-day workweek program

Companies find less is more as Maryland weighs 4-day workweek program
Companies find less is more as Maryland weighs 4-day workweek program 01:45

BALTIMORE -- Most of us work five days a week, but the idea of a four-day workweek is gaining popularity in the United States and around the world, especially since the pandemic began.

Maryland advertising company "C-360" went fully remote during the pandemic. But CEO Michael DeMos wanted to offer his employees even more flexibility.

"I want to work four days. So why wouldn't everyone else want to work four days," he says. "I feel like [the work is] actually getting done better in most cases."

Instead of working five 8-hour days, his employees have the option to work four 10-hour days. About 70 percent of DeMos' employees have taken him up on the offer.

"As long as the client is happy and the work's getting done, we're more flexible about the hours that they work," he says.

DeMos says there are oversight and communication challenges, but his Director of Client Relations Karen Evander says the shortened work week makes her more productive and efficient.

"I really value the flexibility of having that fifth day off to go play tennis, have lunch with a friend, go away for a three-day weekend. Just kind of helps with work-life balance," she says. "And I feel like it makes me focus for those other four days."

Many four-day workweek experiments have been conducted recently in the US and Europe. Employees reported feeling less stress, less burnout, and better physical health.

John Michel, an Associate Professor of Management at Loyola University Maryland, says companies should stop measuring a person's performance on how many hours they worked, and instead focus on an individual's results or output.

"What research has been showing is what people are talking about more is they want flexibility of when they work," he says. "And they want autonomy in how they work. That's more important than even where they work."

He predicts the four-day workweek could become the norm.

"I think it's going to happen a lot sooner than a lot of people might think, and I believe that the benefits are going to outweigh the costs dramatically," he says.

Right now, Maryland lawmakers are even considering legislation to establish a four-day workweek pilot program. It would allow some employers that participate to claim a tax credit.

A four-day workweek could be harder to implement in certain industries, including for health professionals and hourly workers. But DeMos says his employees have never been happier, and that comes through in the work they deliver.

"It's a very competitive recruiting environment and by being able to be that flexible with my employees, I get great people to join the team," DeMos says. "I think companies will have to in order to get the best talent. People want that flexibility in their life, and they're going to go to places that offer it."

Evander says she could not go back to working five days a week.

"It does make your employees happier and more productive," Evander says. "And I just feel like you want to work harder for a company that gives you such a benefit."

Sometimes less is more.

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