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The past few years have seen some seismic shifts in the way we view work. Motivations, desires and expectations are evolving to such an extent that employers need to start considering different options if they want to attract and retain the best talent. One option is a four-day work week. The question is: meis it really good for business? In this article, I will explore the answer to that question by evaluating some of the main pros and cons of the four-day work week and what it means for businesses and workers.
How does a 4 day work week work?
For 90% of business owners, the pandemic has changed everything about running a company and managing employees. This required rapid changes, flexibility and innovative decision-making. And even today, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, the effects are lasting.
In a 2020 study, 62% of employees said they experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the previous 90 days. And in 2021, 67% of workers said their stress and burnout had increased since the pandemic began. It’s no coincidence that over the past year we’ve also seen an increase in telecommuting, hybrid working and four-day work weeks.
There is no default setting for a “four-day work week.” Like any working setup, there are variations. In some organizations, this is a true four-day work week, meaning that employees work approximately 32 hours instead of 40 hours per week. In other companies, employees are required to work four 10-hour days to make sure 40 hours of work is still done. Also, there are some companies that rest on Wednesdays instead of Fridays. This means that employees work Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. Again … it all depends on the employer.
Regardless of the setting, the goal is to overcome burnout, promote balance, and keep employees happy, productive and loyal. And, believe it or not, it’s really starting to take off. There’s even a brand new pilot program involving 3,300 employees at 70 UK companies (ranging from large financial institutions to small consultancies) trialling a four-day week this year to gather valuable data and insights into what type of setup works best .
Related: Is the 4-Day Work Week Better? The evidence points to yes.
The pros of the 4-day work week
Employee motivation: Think how motivating it is to know you have a three-day weekend ahead of you. Now imagine having a three-day weekend every weekend! When employees realize they only have to endure four days of hard work and stress instead of five, it does something positive for their motivation and psyche.
Cost reduction: According to research conducted by Henley Business School, 51% of business leaders reported cost savings associated with a four-day work week (compared to a standard five-day work week).
Increased productivity: On paper, you might assume that a 20% reduction in total labor hours would result in 20% less output, but this is not necessarily true. Companies often find that a compressed work week leads to greater productivity and productivity. Microsoft Japan, for example, increased its productivity by as much as 40% after a four-day setup.
Less downtime: The same study by Henley Business School found that companies with a four-day work week reported 62% fewer sick days taken. There is also less wasted time at work as employees feel motivated to get everything done before the three-day weekend.
Talent acquisition and retention: Today’s employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to work for companies that care about things like work-life balance. Having a four-day work week gives organizations a huge competitive advantage when it comes to acquiring and retaining talent.
The cons of the 4-day work week
Customer Support Availability: If you’re in a service business where customers rely on you for ongoing support, taking three days off every week could irritate them and/or cause some customers to switch to a competitor.
Scheduling Issues: When you’re only open four days a week, it can be difficult to schedule meetings, run errands as part of partnerships, etc. You have to find creative ways around this.
Increased pressure: When there are only four days a week to do work, it puts extra pressure on employees to work. Sometimes the stress can be too much – leaving some employees feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. This isn’t a problem for everyone, but it can definitely play a factor.
Challenges for employees: At first glance, you might assume that every employee would like to have Friday off. However, you need to consider the impact it has on their schedule. For example, switching from a 9-5 schedule to an 8-6 schedule to have an extra day off can prevent employees from dropping their kids off at school or attending extracurriculars in the evening. Make sure you consider details like this!
Related: Will the Four-Day Work Week Lead to Greater Productivity?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to running a business. You know that as well as anyone. But if you’re looking for a way to push your company into this new era of business, the four-day work week could be the answer. Consider giving it a try this year!