The 4-day Workweek: A possibility at EUR?

A DIT Day 2023 Workshop
table discussion

The merits of a 4-day workweek, including heightened productivity and improved mental well-being, have been demonstrated across the globe. Could Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) embrace this trend? This was the question raised during "The 4-day Workweek University” workshop of the DIT Day 2023, which was  facilitated by Nora Geurts and Yasmien Kari and guided by José L. Gallegos. 

Written by José L. Gallegos & Yasmien Kari 

Edited by Anna Stepanyuk 

The Dutch workweek landscape 

The Netherlands boasts one of the shortest average workweeks in the European Union, clocking in at just 32.4 hours in 2022. This is largely due to the nation's high part-time employment rate, ranking the highest in Europe. Notably, 70% of women work part-time, often driven by family priorities. However, this pattern has led to a gender-based discrepancy in working hours, impacting women's earnings. 

To bridge this gap, the four-day workweek emerges as a flexible solution. This 32-hour work schedule entails four eight-hour days without any salary compromises. Extensive research in the US, Iceland, UK, and Australia (see reports from 4 Day Week Global) affirms its benefits: increased productivity, higher company revenue, a 65% reduction in sick and personal leave, and enhanced mental and physical well-being among employees. Such findings indicate that the four-day workweek isn't just feasible but could be a favored option for both employers and employees. 

Could Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) implement a 4-day workweek?  

To explore the possibility of implementing a 4-day workweek at EUR, we conducted a workshop with EUR employees during DIT Day 2023, where we heard their perceptions regarding a potential four-day workweek. We aimed to answer three essential questions:  

  1. What does the current workweek of EUR employees look like? 

  1. What would you do with an extra day? 

  1. What should be done to make it happen? 

Understanding the current workweek 

Surprisingly, Erasmus University staff members work significantly longer hours than the national average, averaging 40 hours per week, clocking in at 40 hours weekly. Interestingly, despite this demanding schedule, it was noted that all participants were currently working full-time and held a positive view of it. Many had previous experience with a four-day workweek but expressed a strong preference for their current full-time arrangement, emphasizing their genuine enjoyment of their work and even a willingness to devote even more time to it if circumstances allowed. 

Exploring the use of an extra day 

When considering how to make the most of an additional day off, various ideas surfaced during our discussions. One employee highlighted the challenge of managing domestic tasks on their days off and emphasized that an extra day would provide the ideal opportunity to engage in sports and exercise. Other suggestions included prioritizing social activities and tending to household chores. 

However, an interesting perspective was offered by another participant who harbored a deep passion for their work. This individual expressed that reducing their work hours might actually diminish their overall happiness. In their case, having an extra day would lead to a desire to spend it work, as their work brought them immense fulfillment. 

Challenges and considerations 

Given that many participants displayed a strong attachment to their jobs and were not inclined to reduce their work hours, we delved into the implications for operational roles that operate under tighter time constraints. The reason behind this is that the positions held by the participants did not primarily revolve around hourly wage payments. Instead, they described how they often extended their work beyond regular office hours, making it clear that a four-day workweek might not lead to reduced workloads, as they would still be required to accomplish the same tasks and responsibilities. 



Key takeaways from the workshop 

The in-depth conversation during the workshop underscored the notion that not all jobs can be simplified to merely counting hours, as they encompass a wide range of factors. Whether an individual prefers a reduced or extended work schedule is a highly personal choice, influenced by life phase, job type, and job satisfaction. While conventional research often suggests that most people desire shorter work hours, it is important to remember that this sentiment is not generalizable. 

Comparing these workshop insights with the outcomes of a recent survey that received 183 valid responses from EUR employees highlights the importance of engaging in thoughtful discussions on complex topics like this one. The overall finding from the survey was that the majority of EUR employees held a positive attitude toward a four-day workweek. Nevertheless, the workshop discussions illuminated the intricate and unique factors that also shape individual preferences for working hours. 

As we conclude this blog, we want to emphasize the significance of action. Let's continue to share our thoughts, ideas, and suggestions for how EUR can best accommodate your work-life balance. Together, we can create a more flexible and satisfying work environment for everyone. Your input matters, and your active participation in this discussion is vital to driving positive change. Join us in shaping the future of work at EUR by actively participating in this important dialogue. 



About the authors 

José Gallegos is a Ph.D. Candidate in Organizational Theory at Rotterdam School of Management. 

Yasmien Kari has just finished her IBA Bachelor and is continuing to study as a Business Information Management Masters student at RSM while working as a Junior Brand Strategist. 

More information

About the Design Impact Transition (DIT) platform  

The Design Impact Transition (DIT) platform is a strategic initiative that creates infrastructures for transformative academic work at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). If you want to learn more about similar initiatives organised by the Design Impact Transition Platform, or if you would like to get involved in transforming education and academia, please send an email to   


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