From a 7-day week to a 5-day and now a 4-day week in 2023, how we work has changed dramatically in the last century. But can businesses learn how to love the shorter week? With studies showing positive employee well-being and improvement in productivity, understanding the opportunities and best practices around this new trend could revolutionise your future.
Though pilot programs run by large companies are still in their infancy, it’s never too early to start considering making the switch. So, why not take a moment to read up, open your mind and explore the world of 4-day working? You never know what new possibilities this new movement could bring.
Why employees are lobbying for change
A shorter work week doesn’t have to mean less work gets done, it doesn’t have to mean corners get cut, and it doesn’t have to mean stepping back from your business goals. In fact, it can mean just the opposite. Reports from companies trialling this shorter week haven’t just seen a maintained level of productivity; they’ve seen a marked improvement in output. And the benefits don’t stop there.
One of the most common complaints from modern workers isn’t pay but time. Now more than ever, people crave more hours to live outside their 9 to 5. The 4-day week is a quick fix to every employee’s biggest gripes. In pilot programs, the increased work-life balance has demonstrated decreased stress levels, an upswing in physical health and an overall boosted morale.
But it isn’t just employees that can benefit; businesses stand to gain a lot from this change in working too.
What this can do for businesses
If a happier, more productive workforce isn’t enough to tempt you into a trial, how about the prospect of better talent and employee retention?
From millennials to Gen Z, why people choose their employer has evolved with each passing year. Employees are no longer driven by company loyalty and salary alone; they are searching for businesses that align with their wants and values. And, as a study by MRL found, a shorter working week could be just the trick to getting the best talent and keeping the talent you have.
A research project by The Chartered Institute of Health even indicated that a reduction of emissions could be a big benefit from moving to a 4-day workweek model.
So, with the 4-day working week looking so good for employees, employers and the planet, why aren’t we already lavishing in 3-day weekends? That answer is a little more complicated.
Factors to consider
It would be remiss not to look at the more difficult side of shorter weeks. The biggest pitfall you can fall into comes from misunderstanding what the concept is and what it is not. If you are going into this new way of working with the idea that employees will still work 35 hours a week, it might not be for you. The ideal way to work is 7 hours daily, and whilst this is what is recommended, it’s not always possible for businesses with fuller workloads.
Another thing to consider is how adaptable this approach is to other partners you work with. For example, customer satisfaction could be at risk if you’re a business with customers who expect access to you for a full working week.
Starting your own 4-day week
You have the facts, the theory and the risks. So, how do you know if it’s right for you? By laying out your answers to this simple checklist, you can gain some clarity and begin your journey into a more flexible way of working.
- Is this model scaleable for all your employees?
- If it’s a larger company, can you experiment with different teams taking different days off?
- How would you work with external partners if you were to switch?
- Is it in high demand by your employees?
- Do you have the right workload to support reduced days?
So, there it is—the pros, cons, considerations and checklists. The only thing left to do is decide whether a 4-day week it’s right for you.
Looking for more ways to optimise your work? Or maybe you’re considering hybrid working to meet employee demands? Check out the rest of our blog content to stay in the know of modern working.