The four day work week: Pros and cons

Since the Covid-19 pandemic where businesses were forced to adapt to working from home, many employees are now questioning if they can drop down to working four days per week. This isn’t out of laziness, it’s out of the idea that we are still working 9-5 jobs five days per week with many wondering if it’s still necessary. With the world continually evolving and jobs adapting, if we no longer need to be chained to our desks to produce high quality work then why should we be constrained to working five days per week?

Each employee works differently with some more productive in the mornings and some the evenings. This mentality has evolved from when working five days a week was the norm. Employees want a good work/life balance and working a four day week would give them increased time off to spend with their family and friends.

Countries like Sweden, Japan, Spain, and the US have all been piloting shorter work weeks, with Iceland leading the way with its newfound success. Iceland held four-day working week trials from 2015 – 2019 where workers were paid the same amount for working 35-36 hours per week instead of the usual 40 hours. Following the success of this trail, 86% of workers now work a four day week or have the right to. The results of this trial showed an increase in productivity, job satisfaction, wellbeing and reduced workplace costs.

What are the positives for introducing a four day work week?

Reduced costs:

Dropping down to working four days per week helps to reduce costs for everyone. Employees will be paying less in fuel where businesses will be paying less in water and electricity.

Increased productivity:

Allowing employees more time to rest, recover and enjoy the things they would like to do in their free time will mean they return to the office each week happier and energised to get the work done. Employees will be more fulfilled and focused on their job whilst in the workplace.

A better work life balance and overall well being:

Having a three day weekend gives employees more time to enjoy things they love meaning they will be happier, healthier and loyal to the company providing them with this sense of freedom. Having that extra day off gives employees the chance to have a lie in and recharge meaning their mental health and well being will improve.

Attracting and retaining talent:

This style of working will appeal to millennials and gen-z employees which is what businesses want, after all, they are the future of all businesses. When an employee doesn’t have to compromise on pay or time off, you will see an influx of job applications because they know you care about their well being. It is a benefit not all businesses will be happy offering.

What are the disadvantages for introducing a four day work week?

Difficult to complete time sensitive tasks:

When working a four day week it means there is a long delay between Thursday to Monday if a client urgently needs something. This means although there is an increase in productivity there will still be a backlog of work waiting on Monday especially if not all UK businesses take on this way of working.

Not right for all business models:

This one goes for employees too. The four day work week won’t suit all employees so it’s a good idea to offer it and see what the overall response is first. In addition to this, some businesses simply won’t be able to move to a four day week such as those in customer service etc.

A confusion amongst hours:

Many don’t understand that employees will still be working what are deemed as full time hours condensed into four days. This means longer days for the same pay which can lead to work related stress.

It’s still a mystery as to if businesses should be moving to a four day work week. Before taking the leap of faith, we would advise to survey the idea first and then trial the model for a year. This way your business can make an informed decision using data from your own employees.

If you need any help or advice on handbooks, employment contracts or further advice on moving your business to a four day work week – Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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