The global pandemic has drastically changed the way people work, promoting a move to flexible working arrangements, and, in turn, popularizing the concept of a 4-day work week. Read on to learn more about this truncated working week, and how it is transforming offices, and impacting productivity.
What is a 4-Day Work Week?
The concept of the 4-day work week has been around for many years, but it was not until the late 20th century that it began to gain traction. It allows employees to receive the same salary while only having to work 80% of the required time. This means that employees need to maintain the same level of productivity on the days they are working.
In 2019, Microsoft Japan became the first major company to implement a 4-day work week. The experiment was a success, and productivity increased by 40%. In the wake of this success, many other companies followed suit. Feedback received from workers in different parts of the globe has further strengthened the case for its implementation.
Benefits of a 4-Day WorkWeek
1. Improves Employee Morale
When employees are given the freedom to work fewer days, they often feel less stressed and more motivated. This can lead to increased productivity and engagement, resulting in a higher quality of work. Employees may also be more likely to stay with a company that offers a 4-day work week, as it is seen as an attractive benefit.
2. Enhances Work-Life Balance
Many people feel as if they are constantly juggling their work and personal life; a 4-day work week can alleviate some of this pressure. With fewer days of work, employees can spend more time focusing on the things that are important to them — family and friends. This can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being, paving the way for a more productive and engaged workforce.
3. Saves Money
By reducing the number of working days, businesses can save money on overhead costs such as rent, electricity, and other utilities. The same applies to wages too. This can be especially beneficial to businesses operating on a tight budget.
4. Boosts Creativity
With more free time, employees can use this extra time to come up with new ideas and solutions that will benefit the company. This can lead to improved products and services, giving businesses an edge in the marketplace.
4-Day Work Week Pros and Cons
Human resource (HR) professionals and management consultants have identified positive and negative issues that may result from the implementation of a 4-day work week:
1. Increased Productivity
Shorter workdays increase productivity and results; employees have more time and energy to focus on their work.
2. Improved Work-Life Balance
Employees have an extra day to pursue hobbies, spend time with family, or take care of errands.
3. Lower Overhead Costs
Helps businesses reduce costs—utilities, office supplies—by reducing the number of days employees are in the office.
4. Reduced Carbon Footprint
Businesses can become more environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon footprint by using fewer resources.
1. Increased Workload
Employees may be required to work longer hours to make up for the shorter work week, leading to increased workload and exhaustion.
2. Loss of Productivity
Employees may be less productive in the shorter week, leading to a decrease in overall productivity.
3. Reduced Communication
Fewer days in the office reduce communication between employees, causing misunderstandings.
4. Reduced Benefits
With a 4-day work week, employees may be eligible for fewer benefits, such as paid holidays, sick days, and vacation days.
4-Day Work Week: Which Companies are Doing This?
The following major companies have implemented a 4-day work week:
- Perpetual Guardian
- Canon UK
- Aetna KP
- MG New Zealand
- Atom Bank U.K.
- Unilever New Zealand.
- Ernst & Young Japan
4-Day Work Week: Which Jobs are Moving Toward This?
Some of the jobs that are migrating toward a 4-day workweek model include customer service representatives, HR managers, IT professionals, engineers, marketing professionals, and financial advisors.
4-Day Work Week: Which Countries are Leading This?
This year, the U.K. launched a large-scale trial of the 4-day work week involving over 3,000 businesses across the nation. The feedback has been generally favorable thus far.
In February 2022, Belgium joined in on the implementation of a 4-day work week as part of its post-Covid 19 decisions.
In 2015, Iceland was one of the first countries to experiment with a 4-day work week. This pilot lasted until 2019 and was the largest of its kind in the world. It was conducted across hospitals, preschools, offices, and social services. Unions were prompted to renegotiate labor practices because of the success of the trials, and, according to reports, 86% of employees in Iceland are either currently receiving lower hours and the same salary as before, or will soon have that right.
Panasonic and Microsoft are a few of the companies testing a 4-day work week. It is anticipated that the extra day off will stimulate the economy, as citizens have more time to spend money.
What Strategies Have Companies Used to Succeed with a 4-Day Work Week?
1. Clear Communication
This includes outlining the expectations of the change, emphasizing the benefits, and providing a timeline for the transition.
2. Flexible Scheduling
Employees are able to choose which four days of the week they work, thereby creating more harmonious management of time in and outside the workplace.
3. Focus on Quality
By providing shorter work weeks, employees are given the opportunity to focus more on their work, leading to the improved work quality.
4. Technology Integration
This includes using video conferencing and messaging tools to stay in touch with colleagues and customers, as well as cloud-based software to make collaboration easier.
5. Employee Engagement
This includes providing employees with flexibility and autonomy that leads to improved job satisfaction.
Employees are calling for greater levels of flexibility, a better equilibrium between work and personal life, and more freedom to choose the ideal time, place, and method of executing their roles—something a 4-day work week seems primed to do. That brings us to those extra days of leisure, especially if you are looking to up your skill. Emeritus offers a number of online courses you can choose from and be the best version of yourself, job-wise.
By Avinash Gavai
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