People are now gradually returning to work after months of furlough or working from home. Now is the time to question your work week and the number of hours you are working. Some businesses are questioning whether a 4-day work week would be beneficial. The main question being raised is if this is something that ‘just won’t work’.
In 2018 a firm in New Zealand ran a study on their employees, reducing their 40 hour work week to 32 hours but still paying them the same.
Researchers found that 24% more employees felt they could successfully balance their work and personal lives. Stress decreased by 7% among everyone involved and overall work satisfaction increased by 5%.
But above all what was found was that their actual job performance did not change when doing it over four days instead of five.
If that doesn’t convince you, here is our breakdown of the benefits of a four-day work week as well as what you may need to consider.
Things to consider – Pros
Productivity during work hours increases to compensate for the lost day. Evidence shows that overall productivity peaks at 25-30 hours per week for people over the age of 40 therefore working five days does not necessarily mean more work is completed.
Employees spend less time on inefficient tasks like meetings and are less likely to waste time on ‘gap fillers’ like social media or excessive breaks. They don’t have the extra day so become more productive and innovative wanting to make the most of their time.
The emphasis on efficiency tends to bring teams closer together, as there’s less time to waste on disputes, and the entire team’s goals are more focused. Employees then feel more fulfilled and inspired to hit targets because they are all striving for this together.
A four-day workweek critically reduces each individual employee’s carbon footprint by removing commute pollution. If all your employees are commuting one less day a week, it really adds up and has a positive impact on the environment!
If all your employees are out of the office one day a week, that reduces all office maintenance fees by 20%, especially electricity.
With less stress and a greater work-life balance, employees feel more engaged with their work, along with increased motivation and creativity. You will also reduce staff turnover and keep your employees for longer as they want to work for you!
By encouraging new time-saving methods, employees are more likely to think up newer and better productivity hacks.
Obviously, this kind of work style will not be appropriate for all businesses and industries. Some companies may need 24/7 coverage so reducing a day is not the best solution for them. However, I would encourage all businesses to look at flexible working hours like the four-day work week as it increases job satisfaction as well as creativity and work-life balance for employees. There is no doubt that this kind of working is the way forward.
Things to consider – Cons
The risk is expensive. The most glaring drawback for employers is the costly risk that workers fail to meet their work requirements. This was most evident in Sweden’s two-year trial that reduced a 40-hour week to 30 hours while continuing a five-day structure. The satisfaction of the team improved, the cost of staying with the structure made it unviable.
Not all industries can participate. Some industries require a presence every day of the week or other such scheduling, making a four-day workweek impractical.
Same Hours Worked
Some jobs just require time to complete which leads to workers working the same hours anyway. The only difference is they’re paid overtime for it. This is great for the workers but for the business it is in addition to potentially paying for the 3rd day off.
Not for every sector
Certain industries might suffer. Industries like office real estate benefit from people being at work in a way that wouldn’t be transferred to whatever the workers do in their day off.
The four-day workweek is on its way in. Of course, its power depends a lot on context. While we wait to see how it all pans out, it’s a good time to start experimenting. If you’re interested in a reduced-hour workweek, a trial would be a great opportunity to see if it is right for you and your business.