Be it resolved: It’s time to embrace a 4-day work week
Play • 45 min

COVID-19 presented a monumental shift in the way people work. Home offices replaced commutes and cubicles, ZOOM calls took over from conference rooms, and communication went from in person to over Slack. Some people believe now is the time to re-think other conventional work practises as well, specifically the five-day work week. Companies that have experimented with fewer workday hours showed an increase in productivity, better employee retention, higher recruitment of skilled workers, and overall happier staff. Shorter weeks, proponents of the 4-day work week argue, also promote gender equality by allowing mothers and caretakers more flexible hours to do their work. Companies do better when their staff are happier, rested, and live more balanced lifestyles. Others argue that trimming the work week without affecting the bottom line is a fantasy. Companies would require extraordinary gains in productivity to make up for lost hours, and access to services would decline. Certain public service professionals, like doctors or teachers, simply cannot do more work in less time, thereby requiring the government to hire more workers at great cost to the taxpayer. And finally, many hourly wage workers depend on the five-day work week to make ends meet. Awarding a long weekend to the laptop class while requiring everyone else to work 40 hours will deepen divisions in the labour market and exacerbate already existing inequalities. 

Arguing for the motion is Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian and author of The 4 Day Week: How the Flexible Work Revolution Can Increase Productivity, Profitability and Well-being, and Create a Sustainable Future.

Arguing against the motion is Julian Jessop, former Chief Economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs.



“A 4-day work week is good for business, it's good for our people, it's good for our countries, and it's good for our planet.”


“The idea that almost everybody could expect to work four days rather than five and still get the same pay they did before is unrealistic.”

Sources: Euronews, BBC, WGRZ-TV, KTLA

The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg.  

Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page

To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to

To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at

Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events.

This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue -

The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -


Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions

Senior Producer: Ricki Gurwitz

Editor: Kieran Lynch

Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu