A 4-day work week comes only on a bank holiday a few times a year, but the future could look slightly different. Over the next six months, more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies will be working four days a week with no loss of pay. The trial promises full payment to all its workers for 80% less of the time while they commit to maintaining 100% productivity. Researchers will measure this impact on productivity, well-being, environment, and gender equality. Research on the gender pay gap by the Government shows that around 2 million British people are currently unable to seek employment due to childcare responsibilities, 86% of whom are women. More flexibility would mean that expenses such as childcare could be more manageable, with an extra day to be with their family.
What would you do with a three-day weekend? You might spend more time with your family, catch up on a hobby or project, or learn to cook something new. This might seem rare, but companies are looking to make this a reality.
What Is A 4-Day Work Week?
A 4-day work week is just what it sounds like, but its implementation can vary. Some plans compensate workers for five days worth of work, even though they’re working a four-day workweek, while others only compensate workers for four days worth of work. There are multiple reasons for the growing push for a 4-day work week. Worker productivity has increased by as much as 5% annually from 1987 to 2015, but compensation never grew by more than 2% per year in that period. The average hours worked per week have been nearly 43 hours since 1970. Companies can also save money from using fewer resources when employees spend less time in the office. They won’t have to pay for electricity and utility usage when no employees will be in the building.
- Better work-life balance: Giving employees an extra day allows them to work on personal projects and hobbies and spend more time with their families.
- Working long hours contributes to stress, which in turn can have adverse health effects on workers. Improved work-life balance helps employees be healthier and ready to work.
- Increased worker productivity: Workers are more productive when given time to rest and relax adequately. Workers will be less burnt out from long working hours and more productive at their jobs.
A 4 day work week can lead to happier and more committed employees. Employees are less likely to be stressed or take sick leave as they have plenty of time to rest and recover. As a result, they return to work, ready to take on new challenges. Also, spending more time with their family that they probably aren’t able to do as much if they work five full days. A 4 working day week gives employees the chance to go out and enjoy their hobbies and spend time as a family and their children, whether it’s to the beach, out for dinner, or going on holiday, it works out to be much better for that employee’s mental health.
A three-day weekend trial conducted by Microsoft’s Japanese computing division has shown that across the 2,300 members of staff within the department, the overall productivity of the division increased by approximately 40% despite employees spending 20% less time in the workplace.
- Increased pressure with deadlines: Workers will have fewer days to complete projects while working reduced or the same number of hours per week. This can pressure employees to get things done when they have less time.
- Doesn’t work with every industry: Not every industry can switch to a 4-day work week. Doctors and nurses must be on call at all times, and giving them a smaller work week with more work to do can have severe consequences for their employer.
Stress can place immense demands on employees’ physical and mental health and affect their behaviour, performance and relationships with colleagues. It’s a significant cause of long-term absence from work and knowing how to manage the factors that can cause work-related stress is key to managing people effectively. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related stress as ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work’. People can become stressed when they feel they don’t have the resources they need (whether physical, financial or emotional) to cope with these demands. It’s well recognised that excessive or sustained work pressure can lead to stress. Occupational stress poses a risk to businesses and can result in higher sickness absence, lower staff engagement and reduced productivity.
If you’re constantly under stress, you can have physical symptoms, such as headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain and problems with sleep. Stress can also lead to emotional issues, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry.
Many people have heard of Burnout; you put your all into a project, all your focus, time and energy to try and make it succeed, and then you do it again, and again, and again until you can’t stand it anymore, that is burnout syndrome. Overall there are “twelve stages” of burnout. Still, there is no set course that burnout follows, but the main signs that burnout is starting to hit are: Withdrawing from Workplace social interaction, Neglection of other duties, and Depression.
Running with a 4-day work week pushes more pressure onto the individuals to perform at a high standard with less time to ensure quality will eventually lead to failures when it comes to the standards held for specific products or deliverables expected of by said person.
Ultimately, before making the decision to move to a 4-day working week you need to evaluate your business and ask yourself the following questions: “Is it fiscally worth making the move?”, “Is it appropriate for the services we operate?”, “Are our systems set up to support a 4-day week?” and “How will this affect our business as a whole?”. Asking theses questions and pursuing an answer that is based solely on the facts of the research undertaken is to be the main goal of anyone looking to move their business to a four day week, this tied with the capacity of the business of operate a 4 day work week should be the basis of starting a four day week trial.
Are you considering changing to a 4 day week get in contact with us to see how we can help implement this change effectively