One-third of employees would take 20% pay cut to work this many days per week

Many employees around the world feel as though they are wasting time on unnecessary tasks throughout the workday and could complete their jobs in fewer hours – and possibly even fewer days – if left uninterrupted, a new study shows.

Given the choice, and constant pay, the greatest share of workers (34 percent) identified four days as the ideal work week length, the survey, conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos, found. The second highest percentage (28 percent) chose the traditional five-day week, while a smaller number (20 percent) picked three days.

Overall, more than one-third of employee respondents said they would take a 20 percent pay cut to have their work week shortened by one day, with the highest percentage of workers in Mexico, India and France willing to agree to that arrangement.

Three-quarters of respondents claimed to have enough time in their day to finish their major tasks, but 34 percent still worked overtime, including many who felt pressured to do so. The largest percentage of employees in the U.S., 50 percent, reported working overtime. Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of workers said they lose hours each day on tasks unrelated to their core job duties, including fixing others’ mistakes and administrative work.

As employers look to improve employee productivity, there appears to be increasing interest in shortening the traditional work week.

A New Zealand company recently tested a four-day work week, and found that employees were able to maintain their job performance, while overall stress levels were reduced. Team engagement and workers’ ability to manage their work-life balances also improved. As a result of the study, the company’s CEO put in a request with its board to make the shortened work week official.

The Workforce Institute conducted its survey across eight countries – including Canada, the U.S. and Mexico – and interviewed nearly 3,000 full-time workers.