The Four-Day Workweek: The Pros And Cons
Indeed, the global pandemic shook up the workplace in a way that nobody could have anticipated. As a result, millions of employees left their office desks and started work remotely, straight from their dining room or bedroom- something that was unpredicted for the workplace in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The Covid-19 induced new normal-i.e., remote work, hybrid, and the Great Resignation has employers and the corporate world everywhere asking: How will business evolve in the future? A possible solution appearing in headlines is a 'Four-day workweek.'
Ever since the pandemic outbreak, there have been a lot of discussions about the concept of a ‘Four-day workweek’, among employers and employees across the world. Even though a shorter workweek sounds like a fantasy, countries and organizations have tested this idea for years. The Henley Business School survey found that 21% of respondents will adopt a four-day workweek for all staff in 2021, up from 18% in 2019. More than half of respondents (65%) said at least some employees work a four-day week, up from half who said so in 2019. Although the four-day workweek might sound like a workplace utopia, several organizations and businesses worldwide have already adopted or trailed this flexible work style.
In this article, we will try to answer all your queries about the four-day work week, the pros and cons of this work model, and how organizations are making use of it in this ever-changing work environment. This blog will provide you with everything you need to know about a four-day workweek or justify the idea.
Four-day work week: why do we need it?
There is no doubt that employees are the backbone of the organization. They are physically and mentally indispensable to running the organization successfully. New strategies are introduced to organizations every day to encourage employees and motivate them to work more efficiently. The last two years have brought a shift in the way work is done, fueled the emergence of hybrid and remote work, and changed the way employers see the traditional office. The concept of a four-day workweek has also gained traction recently, though it is far from widespread yet. There are numerous factors that led to the trend of a four-day workweek.
Several employees got their first experience with work-at-home jobs during this crisis. A recent survey from WTW found that 58% of employees now want to work remotely. Many employees are searching for new companies that put employees first by offering flexible work culture, better payment, career development opportunities, rewards etc. in the wake of the Great Resignation, and they're also looking for continued in their working arrangements. That’s why employers considered the four-day workweek model.
What is the concept of the four-day workweek?
The four-day workweek is a concept where the usual five-day working schedule is shortened into four-day modules by adding two extra hours of compensation each day. It means rather than working 8-9 hours every day; the employee has to work 10-11 hours a day, i.e. to work 10 hours a day, four days each week. In summary, it also covers the extra tea breaks and lunches during working hours. This guarantees the employee a three-day weekend but still allows the employee to work extra hours on the third day too. As it offers a good balance between work and personal life, these 10 hours of four-day work most employers, as well as employees, are adopting the weekly strategy.
Although adopting a four-day workweek could make some changes, the change could have some pros and cons for both employees and employers. Needless to say, balancing both is crucial for the successful implementation of this popular workplace model. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this work model.
- Ensure a healthy and better work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is a significant thing that millions of employees try to attain. According to the survey conducted by Apollo Technical, more than 79% of employees agree that flexible work encourages better work-life balance and stress-free workdays. Providing extra time off for employees allows them to spend more time with their families and work on personal projects. Stress is a negative health effect of working long hours, which is a result of working long hours. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will help employees perform better on the job.
- Boosts employee productivity
As per the report by SoftActivity 64% of global corporate leaders stated that flexible working impacted employee productivity. Employees are more productive when they have enough time to relax and rest. Employees will be less fatigued due to long working hours and will be more productive on the job. A 4-day workweek was trialed by Microsoft in Japan during the summer of 2019 and productivity was increased by 41% compared to the summer of 2018.
- Enhance employee hiring and retention
It is definitely a perk that makes employees stay at a company to be able to offer them more flexible working hours. The after-effects of the pandemic outbreak, employees, prioritizing work-life balance, and flexible scheduling. Employees also want to work at organizations where management puts employee satisfaction first. With a four-day workweek, they are able to spend more time with friends and family, enjoy hobbies, or just relax. This makes it easier to recruit and retain employees.
Read More: Top Ten Ways to Improve Employee Retention Rate
- Better employee engagement
Organizations that change to four-day workweeks have been shown to enhance employee engagement. Because there is less period in the office to finish their job, employees prioritize more than they would be able to during a 40-hour week. A four-day week can provide more comfortable and more determined employees. In the wake of Covid-19, employees are less likely to be worried or take sick leave as they have a lot of time to rest and heal.
- Improve Mental Wellbeing and Physical Health
A study by Mind - a mental health charity, found that 1 in 6 employees encounter mental health issues every week. As a result of working less days a week, employees experience several favorable benefits, from exercising more to completing their career development programs early to volunteering more too simply finding time to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 and its uncertainty. A longer weekend will give people an opportunity to spend more time with their friends and families as well as do the things they love. This, in turn, positively influences employees' productivity in the workplace.
- Difficult to implement
There isn't an easy way to go from a five-day to a four-day workweek. Employees need to be briefed about the change, policies need to be adjusted, and schedules need to be changed. It takes time to implement since it changes how all aspects of your business function.
- It doesn't work for every business
Sadly, the four-day week model isn't suitable for all businesses. This is an option that is only attractive to companies that are willing to re-adapt their whole business to a new approach. Change is never easy, so you will need to consider whether or not a four-day week is right for your company.
- Hard to manage a team
It will be difficult for team leaders to manage their teams in a four-day workweek, specifically if the company operates 24/7. This can make it hard to organize team meetings and it can make managing projects difficult if these employee days off are scattered. In addition, employees may feel pressured to tune in on their days off, so they don't miss anything important.
- Negatively affects client satisfaction
It is common for most businesses to open to the public Monday through Friday, and usually, customers expect them to be open on weekends as well. When the workweek is cut to four days, customers may initially feel confused and dissatisfied.
- High pressure with deadlines
When employees work four days a week, they will only get a few days to finish projects before the deadline. This can create pressure and stress on employees to get things completed when they have a reduced amount of time.
Conclusion: Would a four-day workweek boost productivity?
Earlier in the 80s, the average working hours for a week were around 90-100 hours. Then, a standard 40 hours average working hours came into the present. This continued till the outbreak of COVID-19.
Then significant changes occurred in the work culture, and new methods like remote work, hybrid work, and the recent one - Four-day work week were introduced. Implementing a four-day work culture is a win-win solution for both employees and employers in this ever-evolving corporate world. Because this work model prioritizes mainly work quality instead of the work time. Some of the key benefits of this work model include enhanced work productivity, reduced business costs, and a less carbon footprint. If you are planning to implement this work culture, one best way is to conduct an experiment to analyze its impact on your business.