In the last couple of years, the 4 day work week approach was tested in multiple companies around the world. Some found it successful and decided to introduce it permanently. However, some went back to the traditional five days a week after the trial period ended.
Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to adapt to working from home. So, NordVPN Teams analysed data from its servers to see how private business networks were being used by employees working remotely. It turns out, that people are working longer hours, even up to 25% in the UK.
The rise of long hours, as well as remote and flexible working arrangements for office workers, made many employees question if they can do 4 days a week instead of five.
What is a 4 day work week and how does it work?
It's pretty much what it sounds like. Employees would work for four days a week and get a 3-day weekend. Alternatively, another day in the week to arrange different shifts with other team members. Granted, there should be no cut in pay. Meaning, although you'd be working for four days, you'd still be earning a full, five day week pay. The 5-day week has been standard in the UK for over a century. So, a change like this needs to be thought out and consider all industries.
The shift to a four day working week was suggested more often in recent years. For example, the Labour party shared plans for a 32-hour working week and no loss of pay in their 2019 manifesto. Further, the flexibility offered during a pandemic means some aren't enthusiastic about returning to pre-pandemic arrangements. Therefore, an interest in the four day working week grew recently as well.
The advantages of a new four day week
The proponents of this new approach say that introducing a four day working week will have many advantages. First, it will boost the employees' well-being and better their work-life balance. Second, it will boost productivity. Having more time to spend on the things they enjoy, workers will start their week rested and motivated. For example, Microsoft in Japan tried out a four-day working week for a month in 2019 and reported a 40% rise in productivity.
Third, going down to four days will help reduce costs. Employees will spend less fuel on commuting to work while offices will cut costs by decreasing water and electricity use. Moreover, it could save money for workers who have children and will only need childcare for 4 instead of 5 days.
The disadvantages of a four-day week
However, there are definitely some disadvantages and challenges to introducing a four-day working week. To start with, not all sectors can afford to cut down working hours and offer full pay. Sectors such as retail or hospitality have different business demands than corporate offices.
Moreover, new research by Social Market Foundation (SMF) shows that 80% of UK workers were unwilling to move to a four-day week if it means a cut in their pay. Further, going down to a 32-hour workweek will mean that 73% of employees would work less than currently, at 36.5 hours. Nevertheless, there is a divide between higher and lower earners and their opinion of a 4-day workweek.
SNP announced, in this year's election manifesto, they will fund a pilot of the 4-day workweek. We should look at whether it will deepen an already existing divide between higher and lower earners. Employees paid on an hourly basis are unlikely to want to work less. Therefore, introducing a 4-day week for those who work on shifts won't give them any benefits.
Further, it can result in delays for time-sensitive tasks. For example, if a client reaches out on Thursday with an important issue, he won't get a response until Monday. This means there may be a rise in productivity due to the 4-day week, however, it could bring a backlog of work waiting at the start of the week.
Introducing a 4 day work week needs to be thought out and consider all sectors as well as those paid on an hourly basis. Nevertheless, the prospect of a better work-life balance and boost in productivity is compelling. Recently, even an Edinburgh restaurant, Banks' Pompadour at the Caledonian Hotel decided to test out the 4-day work week. Seems like coming out of lockdown introduced a need for a new working approach and a 4-day work week might just be the answer for some. Even in hospitality if it is thought and planned out. So, why not work in an industry that always keeps you on your toes and brings excitement to your life?