“The last couple of years have seen a huge change to the working world with more people working from home than ever before, but could it be set to change further in the near future? Many workplaces have started to trial the option of a 4 day work week in countries all over the world. This doesn’t mean compressing full-time hours into 4 days but instead means a full-time worker would work around 32 hours instead of 40, whilst still receiving the same amount of pay. Here are some of the pros and cons:
A 4 day work week means a 3 day weekend, giving employees a significant boost in free time to spend with family and friends, enjoying leisure activities or even for personal development. This will have a positive impact on employee wellbeing, mental health, productivity and happiness. In fact, a whitepaper by 4 Day Week Global, a not for profit community providing support for businesses with the initiative, state that 78% of employees with 4 day work weeks are happier and less stressed.
Workforce attraction and retention
Happier, healthier employees are more likely to want to stay with your organisation, and this company culture which allows for a greater work-life balance is going to attract great interest from new hire candidates. 4 Day Week Global claim that 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4 day work week.
Reduced carbon footprint
For organisations that are back to working in the office, a 4 day work week would mean employees are cutting down their commute emissions by a fifth. Equipment would likely last longer and fewer utilities within the office would be needed. Environmental organisations Platform London have estimated that if the UK economy were to move to a 4-day working week, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 127 million tonnes annually.
Whilst your organisation may be considering a switch to a 4 day work week, it’s unlikely that your customers will. This means that in order to be able to service customers your employees may have to stagger their workdays so that there is always someone available on the days your customers have come to expect. This brings a whole host of disadvantages including the fact that employees may feel like they have to be available on their days off ‘just in case’ or so that they don’t miss out. It may also impact managers who feel that they need to be working when their team are working, and therefore won’t take advantage of the 4 day work week.
As a manager, it can be difficult to manage workloads when members of staff are on leave, let alone if their hours were to be permanently reduced. Naturally, your current workforce will have a limit on the amount of work they can physically do when a full day is removed from their work schedule. If workloads are not adjusted realistically, this could lead to greater pressure on employees, which would have a negative impact on company culture and employee satisfaction.
As managers have to adjust workloads to accommodate for a 4 day work week, it is likely that more hires will be required in order to cover the work. This will mean an increase in costs for the employer who would then have more salaries to pay and more equipment to purchase etc.
As you can see, there are various pros and cons for the 4 day work week – it definitely isn’t a one size fits all approach and for some industries, it simply won’t be possible. We certainly think that more and more organisations will be trialling this in 2022 and beyond. What do you think about the 4 day work week? Is it something your organisation is keen on?
By: Richard Edwards
Published: 25th February 2022